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June 2024    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 50, No. 6   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Beyond the Brink of the Fourth Mass Coral Bleaching

from the June, 2024 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Florida's coral reefs bleached white last year due to record ocean temperatures as high as 100F at the surface and in the high 80s at 70 feet. Australia's Great Barrier Reef experienced, perhaps, the worst bleaching ever; in February, Australia's summer, ocean temperatures worldwide hit a record high, with the average sea surface temperature 69.91 degrees Fahrenheit. As our writer reported in our January issue, Cuba's Queens Garden, perhaps the most pristine reef area in the Caribbean, was horribly degraded. To the experienced diver's eye, the reefs throughout the Caribbean are in horrible shape, and while there is hope the reefs will recover, it seems only to be hope.

By now, most intelligent people accept that the primary cause is the uncontrolled burning of fossil fuels, but sewage and fertilizer runoffs also degrade reefs, as does rampant overfishing of algae-foraging fish that keep the reefs healthy.

Scientists and environmentalists widely recognized global warming and its impact on the oceans in the '80s. One would have expected that the scuba industry would have joined the political fight to control global warming. But no. Until the last few years, DEMA (the Diving and Marketing Association), PADI, and other diving organizations turned a blind eye. Of course, the dive industry is not an environmental collective, but it's a business that one would expect to look out for its customers. It took them forever to recognize that the business of sport diving is being seriously affected as severe climate changes decimate divers' ocean playgrounds.

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