Here’s Evidence That Something Very Bad Is Happening In Our Oceans

The planet’s coral reefs are experiencing a mass global bleaching, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced on Thursday. The bleaching, only the third event of its type in recorded history, is another troubling sign of the damaging effects of climate change on the planet’s health.

Bleaching happens when usually vibrantly colored corals lose their hues and turn bright white due to warmer oceans or other environmental factors. The colorful algae that live in and feed coral polyps leave in stressful times, turning the otherwise breathtaking formations into ghostly shells.

Warmer ocean temperatures are wreaking havoc on the undersea biome, causing widespread damage to delicate coral ecosystems that may well get worse due to the potential effects of a strong El Niño tropical weather system.

Reefs cover about 0.1 percent of the ocean floor, but are home to some 25 percent of marine life and have long been one of the main victims of a hotter world. However, Mark Eakin, the coordinator for NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch program, said corals are often out of the public eye simply because they’re underwater.

“What do you think people would do if, in a matter of months, 60 percent of the redwood forest would die?” he asked. “It’s a bit of a problem of being out of sight, out of mind.”

Eakin was referring to a smaller-scale bleaching that took place in the Caribbean in 2005 that wiped out 60 percent of corals in that region, but went relatively unnoticed. Now, however, bleaching is taking place on a much larger scale. Mass bleaching has happened just twice before, Eakin said, once in 1998 and again in 2010.

The current global bleaching began in the northern Pacific in the summer of 2014 and has since expanded throughout the Pacific and —> Read More