Belize coral reef damage blamed on climate change

Snorkellers exploring Belize's coral reefs.

Snorkellers exploring Belize's coral reefs. Image by Heath Alseike / CC BY 2.0

An increase in ocean acidity and warmer water temperatures have contributed to a decline in marine life around Belize’s barrier reef, according to experts at the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre. The changing water conditions have been attributed to climate change, but illegal over-fishing and the early harvesting of conch and lobster were also cited as reasons for the drop in marine populations.

Ocean acidification is a result of greenhouse gases becoming trapped in the sea, where they are stored as carbonic acid. The acid reacts with the calcium in the shells of crustaceans and causes them to dissolve, making it difficult for the crustaceans to survive. Meanwhile, warmer water temperatures have caused the Belizean corals to bleach.

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