How Coral Bleaching Happens

 Seagriculture EU 2024

“Coral bleaching is like a fever in humans,” says coral scientist David Obura. “We get a fever to resist a disease and if the disease is not too much, we recover. But if it is too much we die as a result.”

Corals have single-celled algae living inside their tissue that give them color. It’s a very delicate symbiosis. As soon as they’re stressed, both coral and algae do better when they’re separated. So, they separate voluntarily, gently, so it doesn’t harm either of them. If they can persist through the stress and then come back together, the coral regains its color. So, a bleached coral is not the same as a dead coral.

The problem is when the stress is too much, say from temperature variations, they part company, the coral is bleached, but the coral still dies, even though it is bleached to resist the stress. Climate change is a major factor in driving heat stress.

Courtesy of NBC News Digital

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