Written by on February 27, 2023

A twitter post claiming that coral reefs are not dying is false.

“Correction… coral reefs are not dying out, they are in fact growing and that is supported fact,” states the claim.

Coral reefs are incredibly important animals found in our oceans and play a very vital role in maintaining marine biodiversity and protecting as well as feeding the coastal communities.

According to Treehugger, as much as coral reefs play an important role in the environment, the world’s oceans have lost 50% of their living coral reef coverage and if a stern action isn’t taken to protect them, scientists have estimated that they will all be dead by 2050.

A study published in PLOS Biology on 11th October 2022 states that half of the world’s coral reefs will be threatened by 2035 if nothing will be done to mitigate the climate crisis. The study established that half of the world’s coral reefs could face unsuitable conditions in the next 13 years.

Renee O. Setter who is the lead author of the study and a PhD student at the University of Hawaiʻi (UH) at Mānoa Department of Geography and Environment in the College of Social Sciences said that despite the fact that the negative impacts are known, they are worse than anticipated, due to a wide range of climate change-induced stressors.

A comprehensive study of the health of the world’s coral reefs to date shows that high temperatures as a result of man-made climate change wiped out 14% of the diverse underwater ecosystems between 2009 and 2018 and this is likely to continue if swift action is not taken. The report emphasizes that the biggest threat to coral reefs is the warming ocean waters as a result of human activities. It also notes that there was an increasing frequency and geographical extent of mass coral bleaching events from 2009 to 2018, of which many are driven by rising ocean temperatures and have prevented coral cover from recovering.

A mass bleaching event hit reefs in the Seychelles in the year 1998 and led to a calamitous loss of 90% of the island’s live coral. Even though the bleaching wasn’t primarily caused by climate change but rather El Niño, which is a recurring climate pattern that leads to ocean warming every few years, the frequency of these harmful incidents have been increased by global heating, stripping corals of the microalgae coating which supplies sea life with a nutritious food source.

According to the first global scientific assessment of the impacts of climate change on World Heritage coral reefs, which was published by UNESCO in 2017, coral reefs in all the 29 reef-containing World Heritage sites would stop existing as functioning coral reef ecosystems by the end of this century if at all humans will continue emitting greenhouse gasses without caution.

According to Forbes, scientists estimate that about 70-90% of all the coral reefs will disappear in the next 20 years. This is as a result of pollution, high ocean temperatures and ocean acidification.

We looked into this claim stating that coral reefs aren’t dying and found it to be false.

This fact-check was produced by Sky 106.1 FM with support from Code for Africa’s PesaCheck, International Fact-Checking Network, and African Fact Checking Alliance network.

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