World’s Coral Reefs Are in Danger

December 26, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. degeneration / dɪˌdʒɛn əˈreɪ ʃən / (n.) – the state of becoming worse
Example: Experts say too much fishing causes the degeneration of coral reefs.

2. protection / prəˈtɛk ʃən / (n.) – something that prevents injury or harm
Example: The umbrella is used for protection against the rain.

3. marine / məˈrin / (adj.) – describing something related to the sea
Example: Researchers came to the beach to study marine life. 

4. depletion / dɪˈpliːʃən / (n.) – the state of being reduced or lessened
Example: The fast depletion of natural resources is alarming.

5. on the horizon / ɒn ðə həˈraɪ zən / (idiom.) – about to happen in the near future
Example: Scientists are afraid that coral bleaching is on the horizon for several oceans.


Read the text below.
The third worldwide coral bleaching is coming, scientists say, and it may be the worst ever.

Coral bleaching is the whitening and gradual degeneration of corals brought about by both natural and man-made causes. Among the natural causes are the El Niño phenomenon and climate change. Included in the man-made causes are overfishing and pollution.

One example of a pollutant that threatens corals is oxybenzone, a chemical present in over 3,500 sunscreen lotions and released into the water via swimmers wearing it as protection from the sun. The substance can alter the DNA of corals and can even kill them.

Coral bleaching at a global level can affect people in two ways. First, since coral reefs are home to a quarter of the world's ocean life, the loss of coral reefs would hurt fishing and marine tourism economies. Second, coral reefs are a form of protection against storms for people living on beaches, as reefs can help control strong waves. Thus, the depletion of coral reefs would result in more destructive storms for people living in coastal areas.

There are two different steps being taken by experts to prevent mass coral bleaching. One is the artificial restoration of the coral reefs themselves. Volunteers grow corals in man-made bodies of water and transfer them to the actual reefs when they have grown large enough. Another is the promotion of sunscreen made with chemicals that are not harmful to coral reefs, such as titanium oxide or zinc oxide. These two steps may help prevent the third mass coral bleaching on the horizon.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Are coral reefs in your country’s oceans well-protected? Why or why not?
·         What can you do to raise awareness about coral bleaching?

Discussion B

·         Enumerate other substances or situations that negatively affect marine life.
·         Name some environmental disasters in the ocean that happened because of human error or pollution. 

December 26, 2015