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The Great Barrier Reef: Global warming endangering the natural heritage
Corals belong to marine invertebrates of animal kingdom which live in compact colonies made up of many individual and identical polyps. Polyps are animals having sac like bodies which are having tentacles around the mouth of the body.

Solitary polyps attach themselves to some substrate by a disc shaped holdfast at aboral end whereas in colonies, polyps are connected to other polyps directly or indirectly. They mostly reproduce asexually by the method of budding but sexual reproduction is also reported. This important class of animals includes important reef builders including those of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

These animals secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton. Most of the corals normally acquire their energy and nutrients from photosynthetic unicellular algae Symbiodinium that live within their tissues though some shallow water corals can catch small fish and planktons. These types of corals live in shallow water whereas there are other corals which live even in deeper sea in depth of 3000 meters.

Reef builder corals live with zooxanthellae algae in endosymbiotic relationship in which one organism lives inside the body of other organisms. The colours of corals are due to presence of these small organisms inside their bodies. Recently, scientists reported coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef of Australia.

Some scientists are highly dejected with current state of affairs regarding the coral reef. Coral bleaching is the lost of zooxanthellae algae from corals which happens due to changes in conditions necessary to sustain the endosymbiotic algae. Most of the changes responsible for such bleaching are related to changes in environment viz. rise in normal temperature due to global warming, oxygen starvation, increase sedimentation, changes in salinity, herbicides etc.

Back to back bleaching raised the alarm in scientific community and they are highly concerned about the bleaching events. In 2016, scientists found large scale coral bleaching in the Great Reef Barrier and scientists are accusing the rise in temperature due to global warming for such unprecedented phenomenon where back to back bleaching occurred leaving no time for corals to recover from disaster.

Scientist claimed that at least 10 years are needed for reefs to recover after such bleaching events but in this case there is no time left for recovery. According to The Guardian.com, Prof Terry Hughes, who led the survey said, "The significance of bleaching this year is that it's back to back, so there's been zero time for recovery. It is too early yet to tell what the full death toll will be from this year's bleaching, but clearly it will extend 500 km of south of last year's bleaching."

Another scientist, leading reef researcher from the University of Technology, David Suggett said, "For proper recovery of affected reef, reefs to be connected with those unaffected with bleaching phenomenon."

"Hughes' survey results show such connectivity was in danger and if these bleaching events continue to recur on annual basis, it will deteriorate the condition further and will be tough for these reefs to recover due to connectivity gaps between reefs," he added further.

The result of survey show that bleaching had affected 1500 km, almost two thirds of the total stretch, leaving only one third untouched. Coral bleaching of 2016 was concentrated to northern end of the reef whereas 2017 event extend further south. The survey also confirms its severity in middle region of Great Reef Barrier.

Richard Vevers, the founder and chief executive of the Ocean agency, a not for profit organization that is documenting the longest coral bleaching event told The Guardian in 2016, "It was one of the most disgusting sights I have ever seen. I can't even tell you how bad I smelt after the dive-the smell of millions of rotting animals." He further said, "Hard corals were dead and covered in algae, looking they have been dead for years. The soft corals were still dying and the flesh of animals was decomposing and dripping off the reef structure."

It is not an ordinary event and hence we need to understand its importance though few politicians opposed the report of survey and some others termed the report rubbish which is common way of treating such reports from political class across the globe. It is about the death of whole ecosystem in that area.

With the death of corals, smaller animals and fishes which take shelter and eat corals either migrate away from the area or die due to starvation and pollution. Larger animals and fishes which rely on these smaller fishes and animals for their food requirements also leave the area; so whole ecosystem of the area gets disturbed. Though the situation at the current moment is depressing but governments need to take proper actions to sort out the problems which are causing such havoc.

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