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The Fire coral is bleached to a distinct white. Other coral are also unable to escape this fate
Coral bleaching is the whitening of coral colonies due to the loss of symbiotic zooxanthellae from the tissue of polyps. In simple words, microscopic algae living within the coral that contribute to the colour and food of the coral disappear. The disappearance of these microscopic algae results in the loss of colour and hence bleaching of the coral. Death of the coral may eventually occur due to insufficient food in the coral.Adverse changes in a corals environment can cause an increase in the number of zooxanthellae loss. Factors that cause bleaching are diseases, increase in UV radiation, pollution and prolong temperature changes. Coral can survive at a narrow range of temperature of 25-29 degrees Celsius but bleaching occurs at a temperature of 32 degrees Celsius.
This phenomenon greatly affects the tourism industry, fisheries etc, in many countries, such as those in East and West Pacific, South East Asia. The Caribbean, the Red Sea and the India Ocean are also affected.
Recently, the El Nino effect had worsen this situation by causing a hot seawater mass along the African East Coast in early1998. A temperature of 31degrees Celsius for prolong periods resulted in coral bleaching and death.Now many countries are researching into this area of coral bleaching and environmental conservation projects are carried out in full force.
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Last modified: 4/7/99