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What is coral bleaching?

National Ocean Service, NOAA

This infographic provides an overview of what coral bleaching is and its causes. The resource combines short summaries of the steps of coral bleaching with more in-depth (though still succinct) explanations for what is happening to cause the coral to appear white. A short list of causes for coral bleaching is also provided.

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Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • The infographic would provide a good introduction or short classroom reading and/or discussion activity.
  • It is recommended that the instructor explores the causes of coral bleaching more in-depth to avoid potential misconceptions about how they influence and can lead to coral bleaching.
  • The links provided on the web page can be used to supplement, allowing for more in-depth exploration of the topic.

About the Science

  • This high-quality infographic is from the NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program. It clearly illustrates the main causes of coral bleaching and simply describes the difference between healthy, stressed, and bleached coral in an easy-to-read manner with visual appeal.
  • Comments from expert scientist:
    Scientific strengths:
    - Infographic clearly explains in 3 steps the possible fate of corals
    - Explanation that zooxanthellae are algae living in the coral providing nutrients and color to the corals
    - Explanation that when corals are bleached, they are not necessarily dead and can recover

About the Pedagogy

  • This 1-page infographic provides a straightforward explanation of what coral bleaching is and what causes it. It is a useful tool for introducing climate change impacts on ecosystems. Additional links to other NOAA resources about corals are provided (e.g., corals tutorial, the coral reef ecosystems, coral health and monitoring program, etc.), which can be used to supplement the infographic with more details about corals and climate change.
  • Infographic format allows students with lower reading abilities to gain information.
  • Spanish version of infographic is available.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Infographic format allows information to be downloaded or viewed online.
Entered the Collection: August 2018 Last Reviewed: July 2018

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