Coral Bleaching

May 2016

What is coral bleaching and what can you do to help? Find out in our video! ‪#‎EarthIsBlue‬ Seaview Survey Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa


This is Big Momma, one of the largest corals in the world, located in the Valley of the Giants in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa.

By working together, we can protect corals like Big Momma from a warming ocean. When we burn fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas for electricity to power our homes and for gas for our cars, we produce carbon dioxide and release it into the atmosphere.

This carbon dioxide builds up and acts like a heat-trapping blanket, warming Earth. As Earth’s atmosphere warms, so does the ocean. Unfortunately, warmer ocean temperatures stress corals. Corals depend on colorful photosynthetic algae for food and oxygen, but when the water becomes too warm, stressed corals evict their algae partners. Without the algae, corals become bleached and can die. Reef ecosystems around the world depend on healthy corals. Without them, the entire reef ecosystem suffers, and can collapse entirely. This directly affects the people and cultures that depend on coral reefs for food, protection, and their livelihoods.

Bleaching can transform a reef over the course of just a few months. In recent years scientists have witnessed widespread bleaching events. We all have a role to play in protecting coral reefs. In California, entire communities are signing up for green energy through their local utility companies. Community choices like this can help us reduce carbon dioxide emissions that thicken the heat-trapping blanket and warm the ocean.

By working together, we can slow ocean warming and help protect vibrant places like coral reefs for the future.