Suprising study finds coral bleaching reaches far below the ocean surface

A new study has found that coral bleaching is reaching far below the ocean surface, to depths of over 90 meters (300 feet). This is the deepest evidence of coral bleaching ever found, and it suggests that this devastating phenomenon is affecting coral reefs even in the darkest and deepest parts of the ocean.

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, was conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Plymouth in the UK. The researchers used a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to survey coral reefs in the mesophotic zone, which is the twilight zone of the ocean that lies between 30 and 150 meters below the surface.

The researchers found that coral bleaching was widespread in the mesophotic zone, with up to 80% of the coral reefs surveyed showing signs of bleaching. This was a surprising finding, as the mesophotic zone is typically cooler and less exposed to sunlight than the shallower waters where most coral bleaching occurs.

The researchers believe that the coral bleaching in the mesophotic zone is being caused by a deepening of the thermocline, which is the layer of warm water that sits at the top of the ocean. The thermocline is deepening due to climate change, which is causing the ocean to warm.

The deepening of the thermocline is having a number of negative impacts on coral reefs. First, it is bringing warmer water into contact with deeper corals, which are more susceptible to bleaching. Second, it is reducing the amount of sunlight that reaches the deeper corals, which can also lead to bleaching.

The study's findings are concerning because they suggest that coral bleaching is now affecting coral reefs at all depths. This means that there is no safe place for corals to hide from the effects of climate change.

Implications of the study

The study's findings have a number of implications for the management of coral reefs. First, it highlights the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to mitigate the effects of climate change on coral reefs. Second, it suggests that coral reefs in the mesophotic zone may be more resilient to bleaching than coral reefs in shallower waters. This means that the mesophotic zone may play an important role in the future of coral reefs.

What can be done to protect coral reefs?

There are a number of things that can be done to protect coral reefs from bleaching and other threats. These include:

·         Reducing greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate the effects of climate change.

·         Improving water quality in coastal areas.

·         Reducing overfishing and other forms of human pressure on coral reefs.

·         Establishing marine protected areas to protect coral reefs from human activities.

·         Developing and implementing restoration strategies for damaged coral reefs.

It is important to note that coral bleaching is a complex issue, and there is no easy solution. However, by taking the steps outlined above, we can help to protect coral reefs and ensure that they continue to thrive for future generations.

Additional information

Coral bleaching occurs when corals expel the algae that live within their tissues. This algae provides corals with food and color, so when it is expelled, the corals turn white and become more susceptible to disease and death.

Coral bleaching is caused by a number of factors, including:

·         Warm water temperatures

·         High levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation

·         Pollution

·         Sedimentation

Climate change is the biggest threat to coral reefs today. As the ocean warms, corals are more likely to bleach. Bleaching events have become more frequent and severe in recent years, and they are causing widespread damage to coral reefs around the world.

Coral reefs are important ecosystems that provide a number of benefits to humans and marine life. Coral reefs provide food and shelter for a wide variety of fish and other marine animals. They also protect coastlines from erosion and storm surge.

Coral reefs are also popular tourist destinations, and they generate billions of dollars in revenue for coastal communities.

The study's findings are a reminder that coral reefs are in serious trouble. However, by taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect coral reefs from other threats, we can help to save these vital ecosystems for future generations.