What Are Coral Reefs? Essay

1472 Words Nov 12th, 2015 6 Pages
Coral reefs are diverse underwater ecosystems composed of small animals known as coral polyps, the skeletons of dead corals, and the various plants and animals that take refuge in the rich environment they produce. Sadly, the world 's coral reefs are dying. Ocean acidification, rising water temperatures, and disruption in the balance of sea life combine to form a lethal threat to these beautiful natural wonders. But what is really killing coral reefs? We are. Pollution, physical destruction, and rising global temperatures are all ways that humans are contributing to the worldwide destruction of coral reefs. One major way that humans are indirectly causing coral reef change is through global warming. As humans continue to contribute to this change in climate, the reefs continue to suffer. Reefs are affected by increasing ocean temperatures. They are located in shallow water, where the effects of temperature change can often be more dramatic than in other parts of the ocean. Plants and animals are often acclimated to a very specific temperature range, and even a slight deviation can be harmful to them. Increasing ocean acidification also occurs as the global temperatures and carbon dioxide(CO2) levels rise, changing the the make up of the water that these ocean organisms rely on for their nutrients. Research by Couce, Ridgwell, and Hendy (2013) shows that this acidification is also linked to a decrease in the concentration of calcium carbonate in the water. This substance…

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