Some coral species have been found to survive high ocean acidity levels. Out of these, the Caribbean coral species are best suited to face the toxicity, and they can even flourish in its presence. Research from a new study published in the Journal of Biological Sciences reveals that three species of Caribbean coral can survive under toxic conditions.
These species are even managing to grow under high ocean acidity levels that are much higher than previously anticipated for this century. The study has used the unusual chemistry found in the waters off the coast of the Yucatan peninsula. There they found water that was released from submarine springs.
This type of water has lower pH levels and lacks the suitable levels of carbonate ions that corals use to build their skeletal structure. The research team planted the three coral species in a control site that was not affected by the conditions of the springs. Coral survival was put under observation, as well as growth rates, and other changes in physiology.
Coral Species That Survive High Ocean Acidity Levels, Found By Scientists
Study author Adina Paytan had the following to comment: “The good news is the corals can survive and deposit calcium carbonate, but the density of their skeletons is reduced, which means the framework of the reef would be less robust and might be more susceptible to storm damage and bioerosion.”
One coral species performed better than the other two. The one named Siderastrea siderea, known as the massive starlet coral. That is a species with a slower growth rate that creates rather large dome structures. Porites astreoides or the mustard hill coral, placed second in the study, with a 20 percent lower chance of survival. Porites porites or the finger coral that has a faster growth rate, was outperformed by the other two in the study.
Co-author Donald Potts says: “The slow-growing, dome-shaped corals tend to be more tolerant of extreme conditions, and they are important in building up the permanent structure of the reef. We found that they have the potential for persistence in acidified conditions.” Coral species will need to manage with other factors other than ocean acidification. Climate change is making the ocean waters warmer and is increasing sea levels. Both of which could affect corals by damaging the ecosystem and reducing the amount of light they receive.
Benjamin Diaz started working for Debate Report in 2017. Ben grew up in a small town in northern Ontario. He studied chemistry in college, graduated, and married his wife a year later. Benhas been a proud Torontonian for the past 10 years. He covers politics and the economy. Previously he wrote for CTV News and the Huffington Post Canada.