Breaking Their Resilience

As our oceans warm from global change,

Vibrant corals dissolve and collapse;

Reefs in the Northern Red Sea

Are sheltered from the stress.

But local events

Bring pollution;

In the end

They will

Break.

Corals in the Gulf of Aqaba (Photo Credit: EPFL/Itamar Grinberg).

This is a nonet, inspired by recent research which has found that excess nutrients from human activities may compromise the resilience of coral reefs to climate change.

Over the last 30 years, 50% of the world’s coral reefs have suffered significant damage due to global warming and ocean acidification. However, unlike in other parts of the world coral reefs in the Gulf of Aqaba (a semi-enclosed water body located at the northern end of the Red Sea) have previously been shown to be resilient to climate change and ocean acidification.

Unfortunately, this new research has demonstrated that local disturbances, such as a rise in nutrient concentrations from sewage and fish farms negatively affect these coral reefs and reduce their resilience. With the addition of excess nutrients, researchers found that the entire microbial community on the coral surface changed, and that as it did their resistance to any thermal stress brought about by warming events became much lower. Whilst it is difficult for this community to reduce the global carbon emissions that damage corals, removing local disturbance can help to ensure that these corals maintain their resilience against global stresses.

An audio version of this poem can be heard here.

2 thoughts on “Breaking Their Resilience”

  1. There is a quiet you know,
    In that sea that you are talking about,
    A quiet that screams of years of negligence,
    And the inability to be able to say what is needed,
    It needs a human voice you know,
    A voice that can be heard,
    A voice that can say,
    All that needs to be said…
    In the right way.
    A voice,
    Your voice, my voice, our voice,
    A voice that can stimulate change…
    And, make a difference!

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