Unfortunately, our once vibrant coral reefs don't have such a bright future. Due to increasing water temperatures, greenhouse gases are taking down delicate ecosystems submerged in the ocean. We previously reported a piece citing a 10-year study by Ove Hoegh-Guldberg—director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland—showing global warming's impact on some of the world's most beautiful scenes. If that didn't send you into a bit of a panic, a series of photos by Justin Marshall will.
Taken off the Queensland coast in an area called Lizard Island, the photos show reefs drained of color—mostly left with soft pink or blue touches of their original shading. As an article on The Conversation states, the bleaching process can be deceiving: "During bleaching, as the symbiotic algae depart, you can see the beautifully colored polyps. Sometimes polyps are transparent and we see only the white skeleton beneath. Other polyps may be brightly colored. But whether white or fluorescent, these corals are far from happy. Once the final stage of the bleaching process is reached, it is likely the coral has been stressed for days or weeks."
This is an issue that scientists have seen coming for years, and haven't found a remedy for yet. And coral reefs aren't the only ones affected—the fish and other animal life that live in the reefs slowly lose their homes as the formations bleach out and die. If that's not motivation to get out there and plan that scuba diving vacation, I don't know what is.
Erika Owen is the Audience Engagement Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @erikaraeowen.