Coral Bleached in the Gulf of Mexico Due to Warm Waters

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Around 100 miles off the coast of Galveston, deep into the Gulf of Mexico, sits a marine sanctuary where the resident coral is becoming bleached due to too warm of weather.

CEF explains, “Coral and algae depend on each other to survive. Corals have symbiotic relationship with microscopic algae called zooxanthellae that live in their tissues. These algae are coral’s primary source of food and give them their color.”

Unfortunately, when the coral gets too hot for too long, it becomes stressed and the algae leaves. As a result, the coral becomes white, vulnerable and susceptible to disease. In 2005, this same event took place at the marine sanctuary and turned nearly half of the coral white.

But there is hope! Coral can survive bleaching despite the large amount of stress. The cooler waters during the winter will most likely bring about enough relief to entice the algae back to its mutually beneficial relationship.

If the coral doesn’t regain its algae, it will eventually die. This is devastating for sea creatures that use coral reefs to hide in, and it will impact the sea’s overall ecosystem. Of course, they lose some of their beauty as well. The colorful reefs we love to look at are given their vibrance by algae.