After reports of large-scale bleaching killing off corals in the Great Barrier Reef, news have come in of poisonous algae existing under the Reef. These algae, with its weed-like consistency, feeds on the excessive amounts of carbon dioxide on the Reef. According to a new study conducted by Griffith University in Queensland, Australia, the algae might be the reason the Reef is getting destroyed at a faster pace.
Great Barrier Reef Killer: Corals Vs Algae
Botanists have had a hard time pin-pointing the effects of CO2 on the life of seaweed in the past. However, all that changed when corals started getting eroded due to to the climbing levels of CO2 in the seawater. Currently, an invisible war is raging between the algae and the corals for domination of space in the Reef. Unfortunately, the corals are losing.
The rising levels of CO2 underwater boosts the inherent poison contained in the algae. Hence, they are easily able to overtake the passive corals and enable it to expand its territory. Allowing the situation to remain the same, the algae will wipe out the corals by 2100, reported Tech Times. After that, there would not be a Barrier Reef for tourists to look forward to.
“This is a major step forward in understanding how seaweeds can harm corals and has important implications for comprehending the consequences of increased carbon dioxide emissions on the health of the Great Barrier Reef,” noted Guillermo Diaz-Pulido, the co-author of the study. Botanists have also discovered that certain algae can produce toxins which can kill corals in weeks. Among the deadliest of algae, is the brown algae, which can be found almost anywhere in the world. Apparently, the brown algae has contributed to the destruction of the corals to a great extent.
Saving Great Barrier Reef: Carbon Dioxide Level Reduction, The Only Solution
“If the algae overtake the coral we have a problem which contributes to reef degradation, on top of what we already know with coral bleaching, crown of thorn starfish outbreaks, cyclones or any other disturbance,” added Professor Mark Hay, from the Georgia Institute of Technology and co-author of the study, reported Eurasia Review.The study was conducted on Heron Island, a coral cay on the southern end of the reef. And the results of the study have raised grave concerns among the botanists regarding the fate of the Reef.
Finally, Associate Professor Diaz-Pulido has stated that removing portions of the poisonous algae is not going help much. This is because the algae are capable of regenerating themselves. Hence, the only way to prevent algae from eliminating the corals is to find ways to reduce the CO2 level under the sea.