Listen up, humans of planet Earth! There's something going on in our oceans and you really need to know about it.
Earlier this week I got the chance to see Chasing Coral — which is out now in select theaters and on Netflix as of today — and it left me shocked, unsettled, and upset about the current status of our oceans.
You see, our beautiful coral reefs are dying at an alarming rate due to coral bleaching (aka what happens when the ocean's temperature rises to the point that it kills the coral).
In fact, we’ve lost 50% of the world’s corals in the last 50 years — and that number just keeps on growing.
So why should you even care???
To start, 25% of all known marine life in the ocean depend on coral reefs.
Coral reefs are home to many different types of fish, sharks, turtles, and other beloved marine life — many of whom live and depend upon coral reefs to survive.
When the coral dies, the entire ecosystem around it transforms. Fish that feed on the coral, use it as shelter, or nibble on the algae that grows among it die or move away. The bigger fish that feed on those fish disappear too. But the cascading effects don’t stop there. Birds that eat fish lose their energy source, and island plants that thrive on bird droppings can be depleted. And, of course, people who rely on reefs for food, income or shelter from waves – some half a billion people worldwide – lose their vital resource.
Or that reefs are basically underwater cities of sorts; a giant network different of all types of coral and sea life living their lives together in harmony.
Oh, and coral is an actual LIVING THING.
I had no clue that Coral reefs are a natural line of defense when it comes to protecting the mainlands from damaging waves.
If you don't care about any of that, do you care about money? Reefs contribute to many local economies through tourism, and without them these shoreline and beach towns will lose a main source of their revenue.
According to Scientific American, coral bleaching could lead to famine among countries that rely on fish for food.
And get this: currently, 93% of heat trapped in the atmosphere
is absorbed by our friend the ocean.
And so when the planet's temperature rises, the ocean temperature rises, too.
That's when coral bleaching happens — the temperature of the water is too hot for coral to survive — and when the coral dies, that busy "city" of aquatic life dies or is displaced.
To document this rapid change in our oceans, the crew of Chasing Coral flew to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia to document the changes during an anticipated coral bleaching event.
The bleaching happens VERY fast. The image below shows the difference 40 days can make when a coral bleaching event happens.
So what can you do to help?
First of all, get educated! Do some research, read books, watch documentaries, and learn about how our ocean ecosystems actually work.
Second, reduce your own impact on the world by taking a look at yourself.
And finally, spread the word.
The ocean — and all of the real-life Nemos — will thank you for it.
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