Jun 24, 2019 | Updated: 08:43 AM EDT

Ocean Acidification Is Killing Coral Reefs

Jun 10, 2019 09:18 AM EDT

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(Photo : https://pixabay.com/photos/maldives-tropics-tropical-1993704/)

A new study shows that the coral reefs are under threat because of the acidification of the ocean waters. This new study published its results in the journal Nature Climate Change and they show that the coral reefs could not turn back time and get their life back after death by exposure to a highly acidic ocean water. This study was led by researchers from the Arc Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE).

Their results show that coral reefs along with some coralline algae -- the natural glue that holds the reefs together -- will not survive the expected acidification of the ocean that may be brought about by climate change.

"The results of this study only validates the results of the studies that have been conducted in the past. The ocean acidification will become a threat to coral reefs," said Dr. Steve Comeau, lead author of the study, a researcher now based in the Sorbonne Universite CNRS Laboratoire d'Oceanographie de Villefranche Sur Mer in France.

The researchers examined the calcifying fluid of various species of corals and two other types of coralline algae and put both under a year-long simulation.

"The effects of the acidic water on the calcifying fluid happened rapidly. It persisted for the whole year," Prof. McCulloch said. He is the co-author of the study. Dr. Chris Cornwall, another co-author of the study who is now with the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand explained the important role that the coralline plays in the survival of the reefs. They serve as the materials that cement the reefs by acting as the breeding ground for many species that may come from the north and south poles to the tropics.

"The decline to the number of coralline algae could lead to the destruction of the reefs and to the potential loss of important marine life that finds the algae as a form of the nursery to new species," Cornwall explained.

"The results of the study also shows the impact of ocean acidification on the competition for survival among ocean species. This could lead to an imbalance in the ecological function of the reef," Dr. Comeau said.

He also mentioned that there are two types of reefs that somehow showed resistance to the acid levels in the ocean. However, these corals were also the ones that were resistant from the very beginning. The impact on acidification on them may not be relevant to the overall status of the other corals that are non-resistant.

"They may have a built-in system that made them resistant," he said. "But there are so many others that are still not and they were not able to acclimatize themselves."

The study suggests that a further evaluation of the existing coral reefs be conducted to know if they can survive one of the worst adverse effects of climate change.

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