Since we’re always looking for an excuse to hock our oceans package, I figured I’d link to this New York Times story about how rising ocean temperatures are threatening coral reefs in Florida. During outbreaks of coral bleaching, “which are directly tied to rising ocean temperatures and reach their height in the warmest months, vast fields of coral shed their gaudy colors, turn bone-white and die.” It’s becoming an increasingly common phenomenon of late; about 16 percent of the world’s reefs were damaged by bleaching due to El Nino in 1998.
Sadly, the story doesn’t really explain why anyone, apart from snorkelers, should care about coral reefs. But apart from being pretty and making for cool photos, they’re quite valuable: helping shelter regions such as Florida from hurricanes and the like and sustaining fisheries and other crucial ecosystems. They’re kind of a big deal. I notice that the Times also seemed to tiptoe around probably links between coral bleaching and global warming, which is rather odd seeing as how the lead sentence promised to take up just that very topic.