Top 5 Reasons Why Coral Communities Are Dying or Flourishing

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Greenhouse gases are wreaking havoc on land and ocean temperatures all over the Earth. The rise in sea and ocean temperatures has caused widespread coral bleaching all over the world. Anuar Abdullah reveals the top 5 reasons why coral communities are dying or flourishing.

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Top 5 Reasons Why Coral Communities Are...

DYING

FLOURISHING

OVERFISHING

The killing of too many plant-feeding fish leads to overgrowth of plants, which smother corals, threatening their survival

APPROPRIATE DEPTHS

Relatively shallow (<27 metres), clear waters, allowing photosynthesis; deep-sea corals flourish in dark waters at 6,000 metres

SEWAGE AND INDUSTRIAL POLLUTION

Cuts out sunlight, giving rise to germs and disease; poisons corals directly, killing them
off quickly

NARROW RANGE OF TEMPERATURES

Tropical and subtropical waters between 20 and 30°C; deep-sea corals survive without sunlight on underwater peaks called seamounts

SEDIMENT DISTURBANCES

Corals covered with sediment will succumb swiftly to tissue loss and death; Fungiid corals can actively shed sediment buildup by inflating and deflating rapidly

STABLE CARBON DIOXIDE LEVELS

Increasing carbon dioxide levels changes water chemistry, preventing corals from building their skeletons; also slows down growth and rate of regeneration

DREDGING

Dredging-generated sediments smother corals

STABLE WATER CONDITIONS

Require salinity between 34 and 37 parts per 1,000; they do well away from freshwater run-off

CLIMATE CHANGE

Overly warm waters cause coral bleaching, making them susceptible to disease, which can lead to large-scale reef die-off; stronger storms harm coral reefs, translating into less time for sensitive habitats to recover

MINIMAL HUMAN INTERFERENCE

Need we say more?

Check out the rest of this article in Asian Geographic No.111 Issue 3/2015 ) here or download a digital copy here

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