Reef Health & How You Can Help! - Bundaberg Region
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Reef Health & How You Can Help!

Guest Blogger Bio Natalie Lobartolo

Coral reefs are the rainforests of the sea. They provide more oxygen to the earth’s atmosphere than the amazon rainforest! The health of the reef is inextricably linked to our own. Healthy coral reefs are delicate yet resilient; an intricate and intertwined reef ecosystem supports a myriad of life.

Ever wondered “Is the Reef Dead?” The simple answer is “no”. The reef remains vibrant and thriving, yet it is not entirely exempt from possible future impacts. This is why we must take every action possible to spread awareness and reduce threats, ensuring the reef will be around for generations to come. Visiting the reef is the best way to fall in love and learn how to look after it!

Human Health and Coral Health: Same same but different!

Both humans and corals need ideal conditions for survival. Just like humans, corals can get sick too. If we are under stress and get sick year after year, our body’s health and immune function could be compromised. If our body temperature raises a single degree, we get a fever. If the water temperature raises a single degree, a coral can bleach.

Fluorescence is dangerously beautiful!

Zooxanthallae algae give corals their food, as well as their colour. Dark, deep, earthy hues that resemble a coffee créma or maple syrup (yum!) reflect a high density of algae, meaning lots of food and coral growth! When a reef undergoes stress, its first response is to eject its zooxanthallae, losing 90% of its food and colour. Without the algae, polyps are usually translucent or brightly coloured, so when they bleach, we see through to the bright white skeletal structure underneath. Although a bright coral can be eye-catchingly beautiful, it’s the dark deep browns we want to see, support and celebrate!

 

Reef Check-Ups

GOOD NEWS: if a reef bleaches, it isn’t dead! The coral animal is still alive, but has lost its major food source. How would you do if 90% of your food was lost? Reefs need us to help them regain full health by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and lessening the temperature extremes to reduce stress and aid recovery. Lessening a stressor allows corals to take back the ever-important algae and get back on track with their lives!

Life Lessons in Resilience

We all get sick every now and again. If we take care of our health and immune system, everything generally goes well and we can recover from illness. Reef ecosystems have an incredible capacity to bounce back from challenges. Building resilience increases the chance of recovery from impacts such as climate change, coral bleaching and outbreaks of the Crown of Thorns Starfish. When given the time, space and conditions necessary, reefs can overcome almost anything!

 

Master Reef Guide Top Tips

  • Corals can be monitored over time and there’s no better way to understand and enjoy than by getting involved yourself! Our Southern Great Barrier Reef guides will be happy to share how you can become involved in monitoring coral health through citizen science programs such as Eye on the Reef (http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/sightings-network/).
  • You can help the reef from wherever you live in the world! Explore ways you can reduce your ecological footprint, whether this be through your diet, transport or consumption habits (https://www.footprintcalculator.org/)
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Tuesday, 09 March 2021

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