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The End is Near: Poisonous Algae Further Stressing Out Great Barrier Reef

Feb 09, 2017 12:40 PM EST
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How breeding rare giant sea snails could save the Great Barrier Reef

Algae will soon take over the Great Barrier Reef, a new study published in the journal Scientific Reports revealed.

According to the research paper, algae proliferation on the world's biggest reef is on the rise. It is estimated that if we do not do something about these weed-like algae, the reef will suffer significantly by 2050 and die off by 2100.

As reported by Deccan Chronicle, as time passes by, the algae and coral will "compete for space." Aside from the spatial concern, the researchers found out that the rapid increase in the amount of CO2 pushes the algae to emit more poisonous chemicals. These are killing the corals at a faster rate.

Natural Science News reports that as high levels of CO2 are emitted to the atmosphere, pH level of ocean decreases. This is a process called ocean acidification. When this occurs, the ability of corals to absorb the amount of calcium necessary to continue building reef is disrupted. In addition, it also promotes the birth of certain types of algae, as what is currently happening in the Great Barrier Reef today.

To learn more about how these algae affect the ocean and the reef-building corals, the researchers at Griffith University in Australia looked at the common algae species found in the Great Barrier Reef -- Canistrocarpus cervicornis, Chlorodesmis fastigiata, and Amansia glomerata.

"What we have discovered is that some algae produce more potent chemicals that suppress or kill corals more rapidly. This can occur rapidly, in a matter of only weeks," Professor Mark Hay, from the Georgia Institute of Technology in the US, said in a press release, obtained by Phys.org.

This poison from the algae weakens the coral and supports the algae in expanding its territory. Based on their study, the most toxic is the brown algae.

The researchers emphasized that the discovery should be a global concern, because one of the algae species, is found in reefs worldwide. A separate study recently revealed that the Great Barrier Reef, was destroyed nearly 125,000 years ago, Tech Times noted.

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