Side by side comparison of a coral reef, before and after bleaching. Credit: Chasing Coral
Science Friday: Coral bleaching occurs when warmer-than-normal waters stress corals and cause them to expel the colorful algae that live symbiotically in their cells. A bleached coral is still alive, but is likely to die if the stress lasts too long. An estimated 30 percent of the world’s monitored reef formations have already perished as the climate has heated up.
As reefs around the world have suffered bleaching events—including several that are still affecting large portions of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef—one group of filmmakers worked for nearly three years to document the devastation in real time and share it with the public.
Filmmaker Jeff Orlowski joins coral researcher Ruth Gates of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology to discuss the story of coral in a warming climate, and what it might take to save reefs from further die-offs.