Brightly-colored coral reef

Photo by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Pacific Region

Between globalization and climate change, many of the world’s cities have changed so much in the past few years they’re almost unrecognizable. Some places are simply evolving into something different, but others are at risk of disappearing altogether. Today’s I’m shining the spotlight on The Great Barrier Reef.

The first time I visited a coral reef more than a decade ago, I was blown away. Swarms of neon-colored fish, vibrant coral in vivid hues and all sorts of strange, pulsating, drifting or darting life forms for as far as the eye could see. I never forgot it. But a couple years back, I visited another coral reef, and while it was still beautiful, it wasn’t half the experience I’d had the first time around.

It made me realize, that whatever the truth about climate change, there’s no denying that coral reefs are quickly deteriorating. 25% of the world’s coral reefs have already disappeared, and nearly 70% are under threat.

The problem is that climate change causes sea temperatures to rise, which in turn “bleaches” or strips the coral of its bright colors.

The Great Barrier Reef – the world’s largest reef – has already experienced several of these bleaching events.

This diagram shows the threat level facing various marine life in the GBR. Pretty much everything appears to be vulnerable except for the mangroves, algae and sharks (great!).

If climate change goes unchecked, scientists think all the coral will be gone within a century, but it seems like a lot of the damage has already been done.

Are you an avid diver or snorkeler? Have you noticed a difference in the world’s reefs?