Stages of Coral Bleaching

Coral bleaching happens in stages. Coral first starts off as colorful, and teeming with microscopic life known as algae. However, due to unnatural or unhealthy water conditions, algae will begin to leave the coral.

This is when the second stage begins. Here, the coral becomes “stressed,” and when it becomes stressed, the algae begin to leave. As this stage continues, the coral begins to lose its color.

This is when the third stage begins. When a coral finally loses its algae, and as a result its color, it becomes “bleached.” Does this mean that the coral dies? Not necessarily. When a coral becomes bleached, its skeleton is basically exposed. When the algae leave, a coral essentially loses the issues on its body. As a result, the coral is now more prone to dying, as it has a higher risk of disease and starvation.

Below is a visual representation of the process