On social media, articles have been shared numerous times claiming that the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is officially dead. While there is still some coral life, it’s close to dying even though it is not on any endangered list.
These articles are coming out just in time for Netflix’s documentary Chasing Coral airing on July 14th. Like many nature documentary shows lately, you’d imagine that the film would focus on the gorgeous colors and rarely seen lives of the reef kingdom. However, while shows like Planet Earth celebrate life, Chasing Coral is focusing on death – the death of the reef to be exact.
Rather than colorful, underwater landscapes of coral, scuba divers will find grey reefs, the color of coral death. This is not coral reefs trying to blend into the ocean floor. This is known as coral bleaching, which happens because of an overall 1-2 degree increase in the water temperature. Like us humans, an increase in temperature can kill us. Coral bleaching doesn’t always lead to coral death, but much of it does. Without cooler waters, the coral will not recover.
The health (and lack thereof) of the coral reefs gives scientists insight into the health of the overall ocean. If this is any reflection of what is to come for the rest of the ocean’s habitats, it’s time for scientists and conservationists to act.
While it’s impossible to undo all of the damage that has been done to lead to the destruction of the reefs and the increase in water temperature, documenting the declining habitat will hopefully lead the rest of the world to protect their natural wonders.