Geo 300 Global Awareness
December 11th, 2017
Object of Concern: Coral Reefs
Corals are in relations to sea anemones, although there are many different corals that have different shapes they all share the same simple structure, polyp. Some of the corals are beautiful and are crazy looking with unique structures but some can just be boring to look at and act as if they are a boring bland rock. Corals are the reason why we have reefs in the ocean which can be viewed from outer space. Some people do not even think that they have vital parts of being in our ecosystems but they do indeed. Corals are known as homes for many sea creatures. But they also are living creatures themselves but they cannot be mobile as some people think they might be. I was moved by the film “Chasing Corals” when it was assigned in my Global Awareness course, that it altered my ideas of how I thought climate change did not really effect everything else but humans. This film was eye opening because it shows you the past and present of the coral reefs we are losing on a day to day basis. Throughout this paper I will take you through a history of the coral reefs and also may possibly grab your attention as to why people need to understand their importance in the daily lives of this world.
Corals reefs date back to five hundred million years ago. According to the Global Reef Project, they go as far back as the Cambrian period the the era of Paleozoic. From that article they have posted online, they state that “They once started off as simple solitary organisms but with having so many changes in their environment take place they had evolved and adapted into the coral reefs we see today in the ocean.” What people do not know is that during the five hundred million years that t hey have been a living organism they have surfaced many extinction events and some how it has become a periodical thing. They have gone through extinction to the point where it has been completely wiped out and it is due to the environment hanging drastically changing. Once the coral starts to show an opening for extinction is when you will see a change in how the appearance of the corals themselves. If we do not have a healthy ocean, then we cannot live healthy. This means that if we cannot survive the environmental changes what makes you think there is a slight chance that any other organism can survive. Corals are such beautiful creatures, they are so advanced and they bring many different objectives to life in the aquatic world that many people do have a clue of.
Corals have a weird but amazing structure, they are just simple organisms that make p the beauty and or boringness of the corals we see. From the neon colorful coral reefs, we see to the boring bland gray corals we see it just is simply amazing that the little particles can build up to make this wide variety of organisms. You might understand that they look so easily structured from the outside but from the inside it is way more complex then just rock like structures. A simple coral is made of thousands of small structures called polyps. Polyps are the exterior structures of the corals and those are the structures that make the corals beautiful or very bland. The hard structure that makes them look and feel like rocks are the skeleton of the corals. Even inside the polyps, there are many little plant organisms such as microalgae, that photosynthesize and uses that part for their food to grow. So when you see the animal itself growing it is because the photosynthesis in the animal itself is making the structures that are over the skeleton grow. Typically, the process of photosynthesis is during the day, but at night is when the magic happens. The animal comes alive at night which is when the tentacles of the coral begin to grow and that is what attracts the animals to live within the sea anemones. On the other hand, the plant essentially sleeps because there is no sun to photosynthesize with. The amazing thing about corals is that even though they are very complex on the inside, the outside is quiet eye catching and simple. They all work together as a whole to make the reefs that we see today and they manifest a large amount of the world population of water.
Back to the reefs going through extinction eras, they come because of how climate change and environmental change is happening. The coral reefs that we all know and the beautiful creatures you see and think of are gone. The way things go are if there are some climate changes or temperature drops in the water that is surrounding the corals and the coral reefs, they begin a process called bleaching. Bleaching means that when the water spikes up a couple degrees in temperature than normal, they begin to stress and bleaching is the color change from its beautiful vibrant colors to the dead looking white appearance of the corals. bleaching begins to kill the animal from the inside and thus making the coral unable to photosynthesize to grow. Overtime the animal dies off and it just becomes the skeleton which you see when the bleaching occurs. They are quite intelligent animals because they know when something is not right in their body, they seem to understand that when a bleaching process is going to occur they know that something is not right. They begin to stop the process of photosynthesis and that is when the growing comes to a pause which leads to starvation because photosynthesis brings in the food source they use to grow. So when the bleaching has finished it process of striping away the life of the animal, there is a fuzzy like substance on the outside of the animal and that is the microalgae that can no longer produce for the animal and it in pronounced dead.
It is astonishing that the entire class of corals are going extinct. According to the NASA Global Climate Change and the film Chasing coral, the ideal problem of this extinction is climate change and it is not how much the temperature has changed throughout this time but how much of the coral is going to be effected. Coral reefs need a specific temperature to survive and the projections of the oceans temperature in the film, say that they are going to reach above the normal temperature of survival and coral reefs will not with stand that warmth. This means that bleaching will occur but in some circumstances, bleaching can be revived but if they continue to bleach every year then there no coming back from bleaching itself. Climate change is going to be effective every year and for the coral reefs to try to survive that, they will not be able to adapt fast enough for a drastic change in the temperature to adjust to a living surrounding. Which then could lead to not having the animals for the rest of the existence of the earth.
There are two different approaches that surround this topic. The first one is people do not know. Now this means that people do not know what is going on with how these coral reefs are vanishing dramatically. According to the documentary, Chasing Coral, coral reefs are vanishing drastically and the percentage for that is eighty to ninety percent of the corals reefs located in the ocean by Florida are gone. There are websites, documentaries, geographical news all about this topic and how we can potentially save the reefs that are going extinct. People do not understand the ways they can make the change but it has become far to late to revive ninety percent of the coral reefs that are dead. Climate change is a major factor to this problem that corals reefs are facing on a day to day basis. They face the fact that we humans have no clue of what they are and the use of their existence is on planet earth. Yes, it might not have a purpose in the life of humans but think of it as a problem to those creatures that need their surrounding to survive. Put yourself in the shoes of the creatures who’s lives are being effected by the corals that are dying. It is sad that we do not take charge of the things we are doing that are hurting this world ecosystem.
We are proving that what ever it is we are doing to harm the world; it is showing results of having the face the fact that we are killing species. Climate change is the major factor of how these animals are going extinct once again. According to the organization CERC and he Global Reef Project, they have the extinction eras that they went through due to the climate change of the water and how that process went about. Climate change is a serious matter because we as humans are still being effected by it and have done noting about it because it is by far to late.
Climate change is something that has been around for quite a while but has only been something drastic from era to era. Now we face it again but it is making a change in the world that we have no control over. Facing the coral reefs and the topic today, climate change is what’s making these corals go extinct. It is sad that just a temperature or two difference from the normal temperature of coral reefs can change its way of life. If we all join together to help change the ways of this world and stop making it a dumping ground for everything and anything, stop hurting the environment, and learn ways that better all living organisms, we could make a difference. We have to make it known that there are things we can do now to help stop the bleaching of the coral reefs and we can also make this something and present it world wide to catch everyone’s attention to stop the harm of the world under water.
Coral reefs, how they feel?
Corals are living species, yet they might not be able to express verbally how they feel, they still show tons of emotion and have drastic changes in how they are as an organism. Anything living does have emotions and it is strongly disappointing that we as a human race do not understand the fact that we are harming everything that is living including ourselves because we are letting go of our world. We have destructed many different ecosystems and it is crucial to know that we might even become extinct if we continue to no care about our environment.
Coral reefs are living organisms that deserve to strive at life no matter what purpose they serve on this plant. They are beautiful creatures and we need to open our eyes and have open minded ideas of how we can change this world for the better. It cannot be stressed enough that global warming has taken place and the fact that we are going through a tough time of many natural disasters happening due to mistreating he environment that surrounds us. Not only coral reefs, but other sea creatures could be vanishing because of how we treat our planet. For instance, plastic island, another great topic that I was going to write about, is one of the major points in the open ocean that is collecting all the trash and plastic that goes into our waters due to pollution. The way it gets caught is by the different currents in that area that circle each other making trash and plastic and many other objects swirl around becoming mountains of trash floating in the middle of the water. Think of all the sea turtles and fish and other spontaneous creatures in the ocean that eat the plastic thinking it is food, or get caught in the trash and have no way to survive or get out, or even having to live and build their homes out of it.
Place yourself into the life of another aquatic animal, do you really think that it is okay for an animal to be living in such conditions? Think of it as you see trash and plastic flying throughout our air, breathing in all the carbon dioxide, replacing our delicious burgers with trash and plastic, our homes being made out of plastic bottles and trash. In your head would you want to live in such conditions where it can be harmful? Breathing in carbon monoxide can kill you, and we are here killing other animals because we deserve the higher end of the stick and cannot care about what they do for this world. It does not help that our president is becoming a human that destroys everything in its path. We have to take a stand for what we believe in and make this a better world or we will end up being those animals’ years from now.
In conclusion, corals, and coral reefs are such beautiful creatures to let go of, they go through a daily struggle just to exist on this massive planet. Not being able to adapt and survive on a planet where you have made an establishment for your appearance and also your way of life. From the looks and simple structures to the complex way of being and surviving on the inside it makes me upset that they have to go. It was our choice as humans to take care of the world and be able to have beautiful everything but it seems like we are here for mass destruction and cannot control it anymore. It is not okay to let such creatures and animals go extinct or die off for our own benefit of just having a factory or having oil mines. It is sad that we have become a society where no one has a clue as to what is happening and what we could be doing to prevent this from happening.
Something really sparked me at the end of the film of “Chasing Coral”. The thought of some scientist having to present the process of elimination of each and every species of corals and show the representation that the coral reefs around the world are slowly dying off is breath taking. One of the narrators says “How do I make it show as if it is important and not so much because it hurts my heart?” another narrator replied with “You don’t, you cannot show a fake smile to your work that you are presenting. Show them that it is important and that you are and others are affected by it.” How is that not something that makes you feel like it is your fault, something like this should be taken into consideration.
After watching and reading over all of the information and even when we had this topic of discussion in class it moved me because of how it was just so sad that we as humans do not know that climate change is changing the whole entire world not just what we have been facing these past years. Yes, we are receiving notice that we are having more than usual natural disasters and now the ice is melting raising sea levels and threatening our worlds famous places in our country and even around the world. We have been going through drought and other things that are just not safe for any animals nor humans to live amongst this planet but we are not doing anything to save it.
“Coral Reef History.” Coral Reef History - Global Reef Project, globalreefproject.com/coral-reef-history.php.
“Coral Reefs: Past, Present, and Future.” Coral Reefs: Past, Present and Future, Apr. 2009, www.columbia.edu/itc/eeeb/baker/N0316/Lecture%205/page2.htm
Frost, Emily. “Corals and Coral Reefs.” Ocean Portal | Smithsonian, Smithsonian's
“Global Climate Change: News.” NASA, NASA, 19 Jan. 2017, climate.nasa.gov/news/.
Orlowski, Jeff, director. Chasing Coral. Netflix, 2012.