Simply Science, Part II: Coral Bleaching

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By Stephanie Wolek

We’ve all heard about the issues with our planet’s coral reefs—they’re being damaged by pollution, climate change, habitat loss, and a seemingly endless list of other human-driven factors. It’s easy to become discouraged when hearing about the latest coral losses and some articles have gone so far as to (mistakenly!) declare reefs dead. There’s good news and bad news. The bad news is our coral reefs are in sharp decline but the good news is that they’re not dead and can still be saved!

When articles mention coral declines, they’re usually talking about “coral bleaching” and “massive bleaching events” accompanied by scary images of ghostly reefs that lack even a semblance of life. The coral are white or gray and appear dead. Luckily, this isn’t necessarily true. We’ll take a look at what coral bleaching really means and how it affects coral.

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