Coral bleaching increases in the Caribbean

Coral bleaching in the Caribbean is a phenomenon that occurs when corals, which are living organisms, expel the algae that live inside them and provide them with the nutrients they need to survive. This occurs when water temperatures rise above normal levels, which may be due to climate change, pollution or extreme weather events.

The results of the Corales de Paz expeditions show that coral bleaching is affecting some areas of the Caribbean Sea of ​​Colombia. In Rincón del Mar, for example, 25% of the hard coral colonies sampled show some degree of bleaching and the percentage of bleached tissue per colony was around 52%, meaning that the level of damage was moderate to moderate. high.

Bleaching occurs when the coral is exposed to stress and expels the tiny algae that live inside it and provide up to 80% of its nutrition. “When they are expelled, they no longer have anything to feed on. If high temperature conditions persist for too long, corals can starve."explains Laura Cotrino, scientific director of Corales de Paz.

Cotrino adds that the loss of hard coral reefs will create a domino effect, in which enormous biodiversity will be lost and the economy will suffer from the loss of tourism and valuable commercially valuable fishing resources.

The situation is worrying, since bleaching can cause the death of corals if conditions do not improve.

Benefits of corals in the Caribbean

Increased coral bleaching is a threat to marine biodiversity. Coral reefs are complex ecosystems that provide shelter for a wide variety of fish, mollusks and other marine organisms. In addition, coral reefs also play an important role in protecting coastlines from erosion and extreme weather events.

Cotrino stated that having healthy coral reefs “can reduce the impact of waves by up to 97%".
If coral reefs are healthy, they will help prevent the effects of these climate events. "If we lose corals, we lose this important systemic service".

This is of vital importance in an area where hurricanes wreak their havoc.

Take action to stop coral bleaching in the Caribbean

"A warming of 0,5°C could quickly eliminate some species, although there are some that are used to some fluctuations in temperature, if this changes completely, they will not be able to continue living where they used to live."said climatologist Martin Jacques, researcher at the University's Department of Geography and Physics.

It is therefore important to take measures to reduce the causes of coral bleaching, such as climate change and pollution. It is also important to support coral reef conservation and restoration initiatives.

In this particular case, several restoration projects are being carried out in the Colombian Caribbean to increase coral cover, but these efforts will be in vain if they are carried out when ocean temperatures are above normal. “It is important that regional autonomous corporations [environmental agencies] disseminate this information to those who are implementing restoration programs so that they stop doing so.”Cotrino said.

Experts point out that the regeneration process involves the microfragmentation of corals, which are sent to nurseries until they are mature and ready to be moved to renaturation sites.
This process causes stress to the coral, which is exacerbated by the stress caused by rising water temperatures.

For this reason, Cotrino believes it is important for conservation corporations to be able to monitor and monitor coral reefs to discover which populations are resisting warming water, which coral species are gaining on it, and where they are found.

Key points to reduce coral bleaching

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change.
  • Avoid water pollution, which can damage corals.
  • Support coral reef conservation and restoration initiatives.

We can all contribute to protecting coral reefs, which are a natural heritage of humanity.

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