Tag: ocean health

GBR Bleached

The Devastating Change That’s Happening to the Great Barrier Reef

Pictured above is a recent photo showing the devastating effects of coral bleaching on the once bright and beautiful Great Barrier Reef. Always regarded as one of the most beautiful and diverse ecosystems on Earth, the once thriving coral reef is now feeling the harsh effects of climate change. A phenomenon called ‘bleaching’ is killing off the corals. Bleaching is a process that happens when abnormal environmental conditions (such as a spike in water temperatures) affect the relationship that the corals have with a species of algae called zooxanthellae. Check out the infographic below for more information:

coral infographic

A recent arial survey of the reef shows that around 95% off the ecosystem is affected by bleaching. Of the 520 reefs surveyed, only four showed no damage.

So what does that mean for the Great Barrier Reef? Well, corals can recover from bleaching if the conditions return to normal and the zooxanthellae are able to repopulate the reefs. However, due to the severe nature of the bleaching, it seems unlikely that many will survive. Professor Terry Hughes, a coral reef expert, estimates that about half of them will die off in the next month or so.

For comparison, check out the beautiful photos at this blog – showing the Great Barrier Reef in its former glory.

The beautiful colors once displayed across Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
The beautiful colors once displayed across Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Want to make a difference and inspire positive change in our world? Take action. Stopping climate change begins with the choices we make as individuals. So turn off a light when you leave the room, recycle, and make smart choices when it comes to choosing the products you buy. Check out our list of ways you can help stop climate change here for more information.


Sources:

http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/coral_bleach.html (infographic found here)
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-28/great-barrier-reef-coral-bleaching-95-per-cent-north-section/7279338

Oyster Shell

The Humble Hero: Oysters’ Surprising Role in a Delicate Balancing Act

(This post is part of our blog series that deals with Pearls International’s take on social and environmental responsibility. For more information on how Pearls International gives back, please click here.)

 

It is becoming increasingly apparent how important the tiny oyster is to the health of our oceans. If you didn’t get a chance to check out this video we posted a while back, it’s worth a watch.
As filter-feeders, oysters spend most of their lives absorbing the water around them and processing the tiny particulates through their highly evolved systems. Some of these particles are tiny planktons and algae that are used as food and energy for the oyster, and minerals are used to produce nacre to layer onto the oyster’s shells (and create pearls!).

[quote float=”left”]

key·stone spe·cies
noun
1. a species on which other species in an ecosystem largely depend, such that if it were removed the ecosystem would change drastically.

[/quote]

One remarkable byproduct of this process is that through the filtration process, oysters actually manage to remove toxins such as mercury and pesticides from the water–storing them neatly away within the layers of shell that make up their homes. In fact, oysters are so efficient at this technique that in some regions, it is not recommended to consume them during periods of the year when toxic algaes are in bloom or when large quantities of pesticides from agriculture are expected in runoff from nearby areas.
Their ability to filter is not their only virtue however, as they also act as a valuable food source for birds and other ocean-dwelling animals who give their lives in turn to larger predators in the food chain. The humble oyster forms an important nutritional foundation for much of the ocean’s wildlife. These gifted little creatures are so important to our waterways that should they disappear entirely, the entire marine ecosystem would come under threat of collapse.

 


Not bad for a bivalve!

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