A BLEACHED staghorn coral polyp has promised to take its revenge “in this life or the next” against those responsible for destroying its colony.
The marine invertebrate, still alive but set to endure a slow death without the algae-like single-cell plants with whom it shares a symbiotic relationship, has lost all its colouration since its ability to supply the nutrients needed for photosynthesis was irreparably ruined by rising ocean temperatures.
“For hundreds of years I have lived peacefully here in the tropical ocean, secreting calcium carbonate and welcoming zooxanthellae to live in great abundance upon my external skeleton,” the staghorn coral polyp explained.
“These unicellular flagellate protozoa gave me colour. They gave me life. We shared a strong bond that I believed was unbreakable. I had no reason to suspect that it would all come to a heartbreaking, premature end.”
Ocean temperatures have been steadily rising, placing severe thermal stress on the millions of symbiotic relationships between zooxanthellae and coral upon which the future of all reefs depend.
The world’s longest-running bleaching event is now destroying a record-breaking area of coral reef.
“Do you think it’s any comfort to know that it’s not just me that’s slowly starving to death down here?” enquired the dying staghorn coral polyp.
“No, no it’s not comforting. I’ve been living here for centuries, minding my own business, looking beautiful, and playing a crucial part in the marine ecosystem – now it’s all been taken away from me.
“I’m supposed to be colourful, I’m supposed to be one of the world’s great natural wonders, but now I’m sat here all monochrome like a mug, waiting to die.
“Well, I ain’t having it. I’m going to find out who’s responsible for these rising ocean temperatures, and when I do, I will hunt them down and I will take away all that is precious to them, just like they’ve done to me.
“Whether in this life or the next, I will have my vengeance.”