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The Beacon

The Student Newspaper of MAST Academy, since 1991.
The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

Senior Issue 2024
June 5, 2024

Coral Bleaching: how it affects Florida and the world

Rising temperatures are causing distress to our reefs. Florida reefs in particular are facing this threat which can lead to the destruction of the ecosystems that depend on them.
Photo by Francesco Ungaro via

Coral reefs in Florida have been experiencing extreme levels of heat stress unrecorded before. Coral reefs in Florida have lost about 90% of their corals in the last 40 years. The Florida keys in particular are at a severe level for coral bleaching and, likely, mortality rate amongst coral. When coral reefs bleach and die, the ecosystem is affected heavily.

Coral bleaching is the process that occurs when corals are distressed by changes in conditions such as temperature, sustenance, or light, they throw out the algae that gives them their color, helps them, and lives in their body. This is what gives them their white color after they bleach. A coral is actually not dead after it bleaches. It can survive, but it is under far more stress than regular corals, and more likely to die.

The highest ocean temperature recorded in Florida was 101 degrees Fahrenheit, and the average is 80, which is likely why Florida is at risk. The first mass global coral bleaching events were recorded in 1998 and 2010, and in Florida, it has been recorded since the 1980’s.

Many fishes depend on coral reefs for food, breeding grounds, and shelter, so when coral reefs bleach and die, the entire ecosystem is affected by it. When corals die, the entire reef is affected, as there is less of everything to go around. Once this happens, some species of fish may move out, disrupting the food chain, and since coral bleaching is happening more often, more food chains and ecosystems are disrupted. If there were no coral reefs in the world, about 25% of all marine life would lose their shelter, breeding grounds, and food.

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About the Contributor
Michael Perez
Michael Perez, Staff Writer
Michael Perez, born in Miami, is a freshman at MAST Academy. 2023 is first year away from his middle school, Mater Grove Academy, Perez is excited to learn more in his two new favorite classes: Biology and Journalism. A passionate animal lover, MAST’s history as a science and technology based high school specialized in marine biology due to its location in Virginia Key and origins as a Marine museum, attracted Perez. Perez’s love for animals expands in his own home where he owns “a dog, a bird, a lizard, and a scorpion”. His family of four, including his two parents and his older brother, is a family of eight. As for his second favorite class this year, Journalism, Perez does not only like his teacher, Mr. Bunch, but he also enjoys its writing aspect. “I used to write a bit as a kid… stories and stuff,” Perez said. Outside of school, Perez enjoys other activities. “I like to relax and play video games and watch movies with family … adventure and horror,” Perez said. Although Perez has only attended MAST for about two weeks, he is confident about this school year. “I like it so far. Pretty good,” Perez said.
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