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Warming Oceans Threaten Corals

March 1, 2011
By
Elkhorn coral near Sirius Cay, Andros Island, Bahamas. Photo courtesy Sean Nash via Flickr.

Elkhorn coral near Sirius Cay, Andros Island, Bahamas. Photo courtesy Sean Nash via Flickr.

The Gulf waters where Hemingway used to love to fish are changing.

Global warming is heating up the waters, and that’s been bad news for the coral reefs that underpin the aquatic ecosystem.

Recently, National Geographic listed the beautiful elkhorn coral among Ten U.S. Species Feeling Global Warming’s Heat.

“Elkhorn coral once formed the backbone of many Caribbean coral reefs,” National Geographic writes. “But over the past 30 years these corals they have declined by 90 percent.”

The warmer oceans make it harder for the corals to survive, resulting in a “bleaching” of the reefs that so many ocean creatures rely on. Because reefs are the epicenter of the ocean’s biodiversity, says National Geographic, “as corals decline, they take much of the local life with them.”