El blanqueamiento de los corales

Los niveles cada vez más altos de contaminación por los gases del efecto invernadero, debidos a la combustión de carbón, petróleo y gas, están disparando las temperaturas medias mundiales.

Un estudio realizado por el Profesor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, uno de los principales expertos mundiales en blanqueo del coral, afirma que si no frenamos las causas que conllevan al cambio climático, el fenómeno del blanqueamiento de los corales llegaría a producirse anualmente.

Este es uno de los principales problemas que está causando el cambio climático sobre los océanos, ya que está ocasionando graves daños o la destrucción de ecosistemas enteros de arrecifes de coralinos.

¿A qué es debido?

Los corales, son extremadamente sensibles y sólo pueden vivir en aguas de entre 18 y 28°C, por ello, su distribución se limita a zonas muy concretas.

Para poder alimentarse, los corales viven en simbiosis con unas micro algas del fitoplancton marino, conocidas como zooxantelas (Symbiodinium). Las zooxantelas les aportan productos fotosintéticos como oxígeno y moléculas orgánicas, dándole hasta el 90% de la energía que necesita, ya que funcionan como receptores lumínicos.

Con el aumento de tan solo 1°C sobre la temperatura máxima, la simbiosis entre la zooxantela y el coral se rompe, con lo que el coral se blanquea poco a poco hasta morir.

Además de la muerte masiva de los corales a causa del fenómeno de blanqueo, se ha podido observar que los aumentos de la temperatura y de los niveles de dióxido de carbono también afectan a las poblaciones coralinas en cuanto a la reducción de su capacidad reproductora y de crecimiento.

El cambio está más cerca que nunca

La Gran Barrera de Arrecifes australiana, el mayor ecosistema de coral que podemos hallar, empezó a sufrir las consecuencias del impacto del aumento de la temperatura y del dióxido de carbono en la década de 1990.

A día de hoy, fuentes oficiales han declarado que el ecosistema ha sufrido por segundo año consecutivo el blanqueo masivo de sus corales. De hecho, el año pasado se registró la muerte del 22% de los corales del área de arrecifes.

Científicos australianos afirman que el incremento de las temperaturas del mar constatado en 1998, y que produjo el blanqueamiento del 16 % de los corales del mundo, produciendo la muerte de muchos de ellos, se está repitiendo. Así lo asegura el biólogo australiano Andrew Baird en declaraciones a la agencia EFE. Según Baird, se está produciendo el tercer cambio brusco de la temperatura en un plazo de doce años.”

Bajo el Agua

“He fotografiado esta área de arrecifes durante varios años y lo que vemos no tiene precedentes. El cien por ciento de los corales se ha blanqueado y no se sabe cuántos se recuperarán”, dijo el biólogo marino y fotógrafo, Brett Monroe Garner, en un comunicado de la organización ecologista.

Sobre el Autor

Yaiza Ovejano González
Estudiante de Medicina Veterinaria.

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