At the age of six, before she could even swim properly, Dr Sarah Frias-Torres learnt to snorkel in the warm waters around Barcelona. She actually liked sinking. Ten years later, she took up scuba diving. It was on such a dive that something happened that would change her life forever. No, she was not attacked by a giant squid or a shark. Quite the opposite: “I discovered that the Mediterranean was empty.”
This was her initiation into eco-collapse. She was witnessing first-hand the impact of the anthropocene on coral reefs. The adventurous teenager, hooked on Jacques Cousteau, realised that we are killing corals. I know exactly how she feels. Surfers and corals both love reefs. For many years, while honing my surfing skills, I spent a lot of time bumping around on the ocean floor. “I was just checking out the reef,” was my usual refrain. In the end I decided to cut my losses and head straight down more voluntarily. If you want to see climate change in action you only have to put on a mask and duck your head under the water (preferably warm) and have a good look.
“Bleaching”, which is another word for coral dying, is pervasive. I’ve been lucky enough to see some insanely beautiful coral reefs, but my personal response, when I see one that is dying or dead, is to swim away as fast as possible, vowing hazily to do something (but what exactly?) about climate change.
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