Nitrogen from inadequately treated sewage and fertilizer runoff from farms and lawns is starving Florida Keys corals to death, based on new research revealed in the journal Marine Biology. The research led by Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Looe Key, in the Florida Keys, confirmed that greater nutrient levels in Florida waters are a key cause of coral bleaching and death. As nutrient runoff from agriculture and from a rising population increases the number of nitrogen amounts in the water, corals are actually diminishing before being hit by warmer water temperatures, stated Brian Lapointe, one of the writers of the study & a professor of the FAU’s Harbor Branch.
Coral reefs are diminishing at an alarming rate all over the world as warming water temperatures because of climate change raise the incidence of coral bleaching. Heat stress & other factors lead corals to expel the algae living of their tissue, inflicting them to show fully white. Corals have a symbiotic bond with these microscopic algae that live inside them and provides them their color. The algae are also the primary food supply for corals.
The analysis analyzed living corals and seawater samples from 1984 to 2014 during the wet & dry seasons. Lapointe & collaborators from the University of Georgia & the University of South Florida also collected species of seaweed for tissue nutrient analysis. They monitored seawater salinity, temperature and nutrient levels between the Everglades and Looe Key, based on the research.