The Scarlet Scroll

Opinion: Has the Great Barrier Reef Sunk Too Deep?

Chloe Komrosky, Staff Writer/Copy Editor

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The Great Barrier Reef is a naturally beautiful part of the world. As the largest living structure on the planet, the Great Barrier Reef is incredibly rich and diverse in its plants and animals. Stretching 2300 kilometers, this natural icon is so large it can even be seen from outer space. It is also considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

However, this wonder of the world is currently in danger. Scientists studying the aftermath of one of the worst coral bleaching events in history along the Great Barrier Reef have returned with bad news: much of the ecosystem was declared dead.

While it’s usually known for its large maze of colorful reefs, it also provided a permanent home for a huge number of animals and plants. But now, almost all of them are dead. Some of these animals, such as sharks and fish, have been living since prehistoric times and have changed very little since that time.

Coral bleaching is the loss of intracellular endosymbionts from coral either through expulsion or loss of algal pigmentation. Elevated sea temperatures, often thanks to climate change are the biggest culprits when it comes to coral bleaching. El Niño has also played a big role in heating up ocean waters which causes the bleaching.

This news about the death of the Great Barrier Reef sparked a social media uproar across the world.

“My dream of #scubadiving at the #GreatBarrierReef will never happen. We killed it,” said social media user, Deanna Rilling.

“Heart actually aches over this one. First the bees, now this…” said instagram user, pleasewakeupsociety.

All of these crushed dreams gained some newfound hope when scientists cleared the air and stated that The Great Barrier Reef is not dead yet, but in serious danger.

“According to a report by the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef studies, 93% of the Reef is affected by the bleaching, putting the Reef in danger of extinction,” said CNN.

The recent damage done to the Reef is so great that regrowth could take years under ideal circumstances. Corals can recover from some bleaching, but the more severe it is, the more chance that the corals won’t survive.

“On the ground, we are working with countries to establish resilient marine protected area networks by incorporating what we know about reef resilience into the design and management of marine parks. We are also developing and implementing other management strategies to better respond to bleaching events, such as developing comprehensive bleaching response plans,” said Stephanie Wear in Coral bleaching article from Nature.org.

Right now, the best thing for the public community to do is to use eco-friendly transport such as bikes instead of cars, throwing away your trash inside garbage disposals instead of using the ground and to stop smoking.

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Opinion: Has the Great Barrier Reef Sunk Too Deep?