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2019 Honorable Mention - Joelle Fasig McElroy

Our Dying ocean..."The Bleaching of Our Worlds Color Palette"

Our world encompasses the most brilliant colors that both enthrall and inspire us! Rather than preserve and protect it we have polluted, neglected, and are stripping it colorless. Some of the most vibrant and delicate ecosystems are being affected by this abuse. As we infect our world with our negligence there are rippling catastrophic effects. The desolation of our coral reefs is devastating. All around our world the ocean is losing its color palette! Brilliant colors that cascade across our ocean floors turn into skeleton-like grave yards. There are many reasons why coral reefs are rapidly dying that include pollution, global warming, coral mining, over fishing, and disease. However, the most destructive of them all is human induced climate change.

Global warming causes the oceans temperature to rise throwing off the balance of these delicate ecosystems. It only takes 1 to 2 degrees! The primary symbiotic relationship that supplies vital necessities to these wondrous coral landscapes is with algae. Zooxanthellae, a symbiotic alga, photosynthesizes energy, produces oxygen, filters out waste, and provides food for coral reefs with their digestive cavity of the coral polyp. As a result of rising water temperatures, the algae are ejected by the coral causing the coral to starve and leaving behind miles and miles of colorless, lifeless dead coral skeletons made from calcium carbonate. When these imperative ecosystems die it causes a catastrophic rippling effects! Coral reefs also provide shelter, food, and other resources to millions of species! Magnificent animals like pygmy seahorses, clown fish, loggerhead turtles, blowfish, blue ring octopuses, giant clams, lion fish, slugs, eels, angel fish, sea urchins, crown of thorns starfish, angel sharks, and countless others are also affected!

If this path of destruction and negligence continues we won’t have any coral reefs left! In the last 32 years we have lost over 50 percent of these underwater rainforests! It is my hope that this artwork will spread the awareness we desperately need to draw attention to this paramount issue and inspire change before it’s too late. By 2050 it is anticipated that we will lose 90 percent of the world coral reefs! Let’s inspire change together, before we forever bleach the color palette of our oceans...