The coral reefs of the Atlantic Ocean represent only 7.6% of the total. But it is a home to thousands of species and vital to the maintenance of life in these waters. The coral reefs that exist on the coast of northeastern Brazil are the only in South Atlantic Ocean. Spread over almost 3,000km the most significant regions are between the states of Maranhão and south of Bahia.
The fact that many of these corals are close to big cities may be their greatest tragedy. Domestic and industrial pollution that launches sewage and chemical waste in the ocean are one of the causes of infectious diseases among corals. Until the 1980s, the corals were used to manufacture lime in the country. They were extracted, believe or not, using explosives and picks. The coast of Brazil has lost 80% of coral reefs in the past 50 years, the rest remains mostly now threatened by climate changes that happen worldwide and it has a huge impact on the ocean.
When the ice at the North Pole disappears the dark water of the Arctic Ocean absorbs more and more heat, instead of white ice that reflects part of the incoming radiation. This makes the oceans warmer through the ocean currents, taking with them pollutants and toxic pesticides that were previously stuck on the ice. Minimal changes in water temperature can mean a lot to these organisms that are essential for the maintenance of marine life.
While seas absorb more carbon dioxide, the pH tends to get lower and lower making the oceans more acidic and changing alarmingly the chemic composition of the oceans. Phenomena such as bleaching and death of corals become a constant. If destruction continues at the current pace, 70% of the world’s reefs could disappear in just 50 years. There will remain only white calcified skeletons like an underwater graveyard. Unfortunately 20% of them can no longer be recovered.
In January 2014, during the worst summer in the history of Brazilian southeast, the ocean warming shown itself a really disturbing matter: it was possible to watch, up from the space, a spot of dead algae over 800 km in length, a result of the abnormal warming of the Southern Atlantic waters.
From the outside these spots are nothing but strange shapes on the water, but when diving they turn into an explosion of life and then, we can understand the importance of maintaining the health of these ecosystems
Even with the ongoing climate change humans continue to represent the greatest threat to coral reefs and oceans. Pollution, overfishing, the large boat traffic in the areas of corals, together with high temperatures of the oceans becoming increasingly warmer, make today the situation of these ecosystems worrying. Some experts point to the degradation of corals and rise of ocean temperatures as one of the greatest catastrophes of global warming.
With a reputation for cruel and dangerous, sharks are being hunted and killed worldwide. Countless species of sharks are already in the process of extinction. These animals are at the top of the chain and are vital to the balance of life in the oceans. Everything is cyclical and a problem is not disconnected from another, with the destruction of coral reefs several species of fish, like sharks, lose their feeding areas and look for other ones and then, the disastrous encounters with humans happen. As an example, the construction of the port of Suape in Recife in 1990, when rivers were deviated and coral reefs were imploded and in sequence, the city recorded 59 shark attacks which 24 of them were fatal.
The health of the oceans is vital to us. Almost all the oxygen we breathe comes from cyanobacteria or blue-green algae. We all owe much to these aquatic creatures that are releasing oxygen into the atmosphere for billions of years, allowing the arise of our species.
Learn more watching the movie on this trip 10 places threatened on the planet: