‘It’s really shocking’: Study on coral bleaching highlights importance of Bay Area research

ABC News

For Marine biologist Alejandra Hernandez, Ph.D., exploring the world’s coral reefs with the California Academy of Sciences has been both exhilarating, and at times disheartening. Especially, when she’s come across evidence of the damage being blamed on climate change and rising ocean temperatures. An effect known as coral bleaching.

“And seeing the corals bleaching is just, it’s really shocking and sad,” says Hernandez.

In her office at the Academy, she shows off the bright white skeleton of a dead coral, which contrasts with the colors often visible a few feet beneath ocean’s surface, produced by organisms, like algae, that attach themselves to living coral and thrive in healthy reefs. It’s a symbiotic relationship that can be disrupted when waters become too warm.

“And in such cases, then that symbiosis, that relationship between the coral and the algae, it’s not positive for the coral anymore. So the coral release that algae,” she explains, sometimes with destructive consequences.

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