Widespread bleaching of the world?s coral reefs has spread fear that global warming, and the subsequent warming of the oceans, may kill off the coral, which is essential to ocean ecology. But according to Andrew Baker, of the New York Aquarium in Brooklyn, the bleaching may be a risky gamble by corals to adapt to warmer seas.
Reef-building corals contain algae that interact with the sun and help feed the coral, in exchange for a place to stay. But if the light or temperature changes, corals often evict the algae. Since the algae contain the pigments that give corals their color, the reefs are left bleached.