Coral reefs cover just one percent of the ocean, yet play host to 25 percent of all marine life. Their importance to a healthy global environment cannot be understated. But ocean acidification and other human-caused destructive practices threaten reefs worldwide.
And now researchers have a better understanding of how ocean acidification weakens coral skeletons — the building blocks of coral reefs.
In a recent study led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, scientists discovered that ocean acidification impedes the thickening process of coral growth, thus leaving reefs more vulnerable to breaking.
- As global temperatures rise, few corals will escape this damaging effect of ocean acidification.
- Coral reefs in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines — the “Coral Triangle” — could decline by 20 percent by 2100.
- Hawaii and Caribbean coral reefs are projected to decline by 10 percent.
Until now, research in this area has been inconclusive, showing negative impacts on coral growth in some, but not all, cases.
Ocean acidification is not the only thing negatively impacting coral growth, the researchers said. But it is imperative to save the “rainforests of the sea.”