Nature’s most beautiful death
Feature article in TIME | 26 September 2016
In October 2014 we started responding to the 3rd Global Coral Beaching Event as part of the XL Catlin Seaview Survey. In fact we’ve been the only team recording and revealing its impact on reefs on a global basis using our specially designed 360-degree cameras.
We never imagined we’d still be responding to this event over two years later. This has been the worst and longest bleaching event in history.
The corals in Okinawa, Japan, photographed by the The Ocean Agency / XL Catlin Seaview Survey / Stephanie Roach in September 2016.
In both locations the corals weren't just turning white, many were fluorescing in incredibly bright colours - a sight that has been rarely photographed.
Some corals 'glow' like this during the bleaching process due to natural sunscreen chemicals they produce to protect themselves from the suns rays. The chemicals colour their otherwise clear flesh tissue. They appear to glow due to their exposed white skeletons underneath this coloured tissue that trap and reflect the light. It is truly one of nature's most stunning yet tragic events.
If ever there was a wake up call to the threat of climate change, this is it. We are seeing an entire ecosystem in a rapid state of collapse (the most bio-diverse ecosystem on the planet). It is a dire warning we can't afford to ignore.