JAN 22, 2017 9:45 AM PST

What If All the Corals Died?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

The coral reefs in the Caribbean and South Pacific oceans attract scuba divers and snorkelers from all over the world. In particular, the iconic Great Barrier Reef in Australia is recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. But ironically, the popularity of these reefs is one the reasons why such natural wonders are endangered. In addition, climate change, pollution, and overfishing are pushing the existence of coral reefs to the brink. Let's consider the consequences should these natural structures disappear.

If corals die off, experts say the entire reef ecosystem will be affected. This means the physical reef could erode as thousands of marine animals supported by coral also begin to die off. From there, the impact would hit other animals in the food chain, starting with bigger fish that feed on the smaller animals living directly with the coral. Eventually, the impact would hit people around the world, as the fishing industry would decline. Furthermore, industries that rely on chemicals found in these ecosystems would also feel the pressure once the reef is gone.

This scary scenario is only made more frightening when we realize that the situation is already happening - coral reefs are currently in startling decline. Watch the video to learn more about what will happen and conservation efforts to save the reefs.
About the Author
I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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