Bleaching of the australian coral reef
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Bleaching of the Australian Coral Reef. Caroline Leahy Emily Ho Billy Castore. The Great Barrier Reef. The reef is 15 million years old in the north and 2 million years old in the south. The coral reef is 2,300km long, and there are tens of thousands of km of coral reefs in the world.

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Bleaching of the Australian Coral Reef

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Bleaching of the australian coral reef

Bleaching of the Australian Coral Reef

Caroline Leahy

Emily Ho

Billy Castore

The great barrier reef

The Great Barrier Reef

  • The reef is 15 million years old in the north and 2 million years old in the south.

  • The coral reef is 2,300km long, and there are tens of thousands of km of coral reefs in the world.

  • It is believed that if the rate of coral bleaching continues, almost all coral will be gone by 2050.

  • 95% of the Australians Great Barrier Reef could be gone by 2050.

  • There are 2900 individual reefs in the Great Barrier, ranging from ones that are a few thousand square meters to some that are 120 square kilometers.

  • There are 2000 fish species and 500 coral species in the Great Barrier Reef

  • In 2002, 60% of the reef suffered from the bleaching.

What is coral bleaching

What is Coral Bleaching?

  • Coral bleaching is when coral loses it’s color. This has nothing to do with bleach. It is when temperatures around the reef get too hot so the symbiotic algae and zooplankton, who give the coral color and food, move out of the coral and it loses it’s color.

  • Another reason for this to occur is acidic oceans. Acidic oceans reduces the amount of carbonate ions. Carbonate ions have calcium carbonate for animals like coral to use to make their exoskeletons.

  • This has already caused 16% of the worlds coral reefs to die.

  • What is Coral Bleaching?What is Coral Bleaching?

Why and how does this occur

Why and How Does This Occur?

  • Coral bleaching occurs because CO2 from land goes into the ocean and heats it up by UV rays trapping the CO2 in the water. The high level of CO2 also makes the ocean acidic. Because zooplankton and algae are very sensitive, they move out when the water gets too warm, and acidic. Bleaching of the coral reef occurs because of the rise in water temperature and the acidity level of the water.

  • Temperatures of the water must be between 26 and 27 degrees Celsius and clear with low concentrations of carbon in order for the coral to grow. If these conditions are not right, the zooplankton and algae will leave the coral causing it to loose its’ color and die. This is because the zooplankton provide the coral with a pigment as well as supply some food for the coral.

  • Acidic oceans are caused when carbon dioxide is absorbed by the water. This make the the oceans acidic and make carbonate ions are harder for plant and animal, like coral, to absorb.

Environmental impact

Environmental Impact

  • Major things that affect the reef are winds, cyclones, temperature, erosion, sea levels and precipitation.

  • Winds and cyclones affect it because they wear away at the coral and change the shapes, which in essence can put them in warmer waters. Erosion in essence is the same thing.

  • With global warming, sea levels are changing. This is in one way good for coral because coral reefs grow in high sea levels and die when they are low.

  • Temperature obviously affects it because when temperatures go too high, the zoo plankton leave the coral.

  • Precipitation affects the coral reef because it brings sediments and nutrients out to sea where they may affect the water quality.

Problems from this ecological issue

Problems From This Ecological Issue

  • When reefs collapse, fish will be deprived of food and shelter. Plankton and algae are food sources that will also get their shelter taken away if the coral die. Since algae is at the bottom of the food chain, it is a primary producers. All consumers will lose their food sources if the primary producer dies out. Fore example, is the algae suddenly disappears, all of the 1st level consumers will loose their food source. Eventually they will either die or move into a different habitat. This will lead to unbalanced ecosystems, because the ecosystem that new species are entering, will have more animals eating the primary producer so there will not be enough food. Also all the other consumer levels are effected because at some time there pray ate a primary producer. The loss of a primary producer is like a domino affect.

  • The reef is the nesting ground for endangered species such as loggerhead turtles, green turtles and the seabird rookery so these animals won’t have anywhere to breed and reproduce.

  • Fish diversity and size of fish population are decreasing because of the lack of the algae.

Ways this is being corrected

Ways This Is Being Corrected

  • If you ever visit the Great Barrier Reef, don’t take home any coral or shells. It takes away from the vast types of coral.

  • Limit the amount of CFCs you use. For example you can turn off the air condition when you are not home, and use bubble wrap for packaging instead of Styrofoam. You should do this because when CFC’s go into the ozone and destroys it making it easier for UV rays to enter the earth. The UV rays are trapped in the excess carbon. If you use less CFC’s, it will make global warming slow down and therefore the water will not be too warm so the zooplankton and algae will stay in the coral.

  • Plant trees so that the excess CO2 is used by the plants and the extra CO2 will not be stuck in the air as well as the ocean.

How coral bleaching affects the environment organisms and humans

How Coral Bleaching Affects the Environment, Organisms, and Humans

Environment and Organisms

  • Many different organisms depend on the coral for shelter. Also their pray might live there, so if the coral die, many animals will loose their shelter and food source. Organisms will go and find food in a different leading to a competition for food.


  • Coral bleaching affects humans because tourist go to Australia to see the Great Barrier Reef, so if it is destroyed than one of the seven wonders of the natural world will no longer exist. Fishers are also affected because a wide variety of fish live in or near the Great Barrier Reed, so fishers will loose some of their income.

Solution for preventing coral bleaching

Solution For Preventing Coral Bleaching

  • Due to the fact that heated water along with lower water levels are the cause of the coral bleaching, one very affective way to lower temperatures and raise water levels is by putting cold water on the coral. When the water temperatures are getting very hot, we can pump out water from the surrounding areas, cool it and pump the cold water into the area of the reef.

  • We could do this by putting piping in the ocean that would pump cold water out to the reef. The cold water that is being pumped out is from the hot water being sucked in from the piping. When the water is in transition from being hot to cold, it can enter a specialized tank with many plants so that the excess CO2 is being used. With the piping, we can regulate the amount, temperature, and CO2 level of the water. This might be expensive, but it’s worth it for saving our earth’s coral reef. The expense can be paid off from tourist who visit the reef. If it works here, other places can use it to help their reefs.

Timeline for the solution

Timeline For The Solution

Make plans for where to put the piping, how do cool the water, etc.

Equipment is installed and tested. Revisions are made.

Building of equipment and pipes begins

Begin fundraising









Pipes and equipment are completed

$15,000,000 for pipes, employees and equipment raised.

Plans are revised and approved

Pipes are officially opened and prove affective. The coral is surviving through the hot summers, cold winters and the acidity of the ocean is decreasing.

Needs to be finished by 2050 because scientist have predicted that if the rate of coral bleaching is this rapid, there will be almost no coral reefs left by 2050.

Why help what are the repercussions

Why Help? What are the Repercussions?

  • People should help this cause because if these coral die, it will take millions of years for it to be revived. Also, it’s one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

  • Some repercussions are a fall in the Australian economy from the loss of tourist that visit the coral reef. Also, Australia will lose one of their main sources of food due to the loss of fish.

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