Over the summer, I took an environmental communications class for my racial issues graduation requirement. I learned a multitude of information on climate change and its effects. The first thing the professor has us do was watch a documentary that talked about climate change (CC). I watched a documentary called Chasing Coral, it was released to the public on Netflix in 2017. The premise was to find out why the coral was turning white, to which they coined this phenomenon as bleaching.
After some research and sampling, they found that the coral was bleaching from water temperature increase. They discovered this when they increased the test water samples 2°C (3.6°F) more and thus caused the test corals to whiten. They understood that when people heard this seemingly insignificant change in temperature the majority would brush of their urgency (I am guilty as well). They told us to look at it this way:
You as a human being have a regulated body temperature of ~98.6°F (37°C). Now imagine increasing that temperature 2/3.6 degrees more, we are talking 102.2°F (39°C) temperatures. These are very sick to fatal numbers and that is exactly what is happening to the coral. That white you see, that is the corals skeleton.
The team of divers and photographers set out between the years of 2014-2017 to capture and record the worlds most severe bleaching event in recorded history. They found out that 75% of corals suffered or died from heat stress brought on by climate change in those years alone.
In the documentary, there was a Coral Reef Biologist named Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg and he was talking about how everything in the world is connected. There we are pulling out this card called “coral reefs” and discarding it. He wonders how many cards will be discarded before everything collapse. How many cards will be pulled out before we notice? And how many before it’s too late?
Near the end, they concluded that 67% of the northern region of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) was dead. This is equivalent to losing most of the trees between Washington D.C. to Maine. The GBR experienced its fourth mass bleaching this March; I will save you the heartache from those statistics.
That is when I came across this Tik Tok from an organization called Coral Gardeners. They found a breakthrough, creating “super corals” that is resilient to CC stressors. They are, quite literally, coral gardeners. This organization goes out and dives into their gardens of coral and raises them to be healthy enough to withstand CC and aid existing (or barely existing) reefs.
It made me so happy to know that there are people out there trying to help conserve these corals reefs and make them stronger. It is unfortunate that it has to come to this.