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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Ocean Species Are in Trouble: U.S. Coral Reefs Could Disappear Within Decades, Scientists Warn

Ocean Species Are in Trouble: U.S. Coral Reefs Could Disappear Within Decades, Scientists Warn

Global warming is taking its toll on coral reefs in U.S. waters, and many of the marine sanctuaries near Hawaii, Florida and the Caribbean are expected to disappear within a few decades, according to scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Despite strict conservation efforts in various protected areas in American seas, in a Tuesday report, NOAA reef experts told The Guardian that many reefs off Hawaii and Florida will start to see impacts from rising ocean temperatures as soon as this summer.

Some 70 percent of coral reefs across the globe have been affected by bleaching—which NOAA said is the most obvious visual indication of climate change in the marine environment. Coral reefs are typically vibrantly colored by photosynthetic algae called zooxanthellae—which provides the reef with food and oxygen. But exposure to carbon dioxide is causing water temperatures to rise, and algae cannot survive in these warmer waters. As they die off, the coral deteriorate and lose their color, a phenomenon known as bleaching. The widespread occurrence of bleaching throughout much of the world is alarming not only because it could be the result of human-caused climate change but also because it precedes the disappearance of the reefs—and the life they support—altogether.

NOAA experts said bleaching was happening to American reefs at an alarmingly rapid pace.

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