99 Percent Of Japan’s Biggest Coral Reef Is In Jeopardy Of Being Lost

Dead coral reef is seen in Kawahira Bay, Ishigaki Island. | AFP-JIJI

Coral reefs around the world have seen absolute devastation due to warming ocean temperatures as the warm waters cause coral to bleach and the incidents have been well documented in the Great Barrier Reef and in Hawaii. Now due to a study, it has been revealed that Japan’s largest and most gorgeous reef is also like to meet the same fatal result.

A government survey of Sekisei Lagoon in southwestern Japan, near Okinawa, has found that just 1.4 percent of the coral reef is healthy. The fairly large size reef, 12.4 miles by 9.3 miles, contains more than 350 coral species and is a diverse environment for millions of fish that make their home there.

The study was performed by using over 1,000 satellite images of Seikisei Lagoon and two other reefs around the Ishigaki and Iriomote islets of the Okinawa Prefecture.

These findings are on top of Japan’s Environment Ministry report that found that last year 70 percent of the reef was dead, with up to 90 percent of it suffering from heavy bleaching.

Coral bleaching is caused when the microalgae that live symbiotically with the coral are subjected to stress, such as warming temperatures, water acidification or pollution, which causes the microalgae to die or flle the coral, leaving the coral a pale/white color which often results in the coral dying.

Climate change is “the greatest global threat” to coral reef ecosystems, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Along with rising sea surface temperatures, carbon dioxide absorbed into the ocean from the atmosphere decreases the water’s pH, making it more acidic and hostile to life.

This is not only bad for the coral but also all of the marine life that lives on the reef. A recent study found that when the coral die, the marine life living on the reef will die or have to move onto another healthy system.

To spearhead this growing problem, the best way to reduce the growth of death in the oceans slowing climate change by reducing carbon emissions.

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