Once upon a time, there was coral.

Coral lives in the ocean and forms massive, magnificent reefs when it binds together. The reefs, with their hard bony structure and various nooks and crannies, provide protection and shelter for all manner of marine wildlife.


Photo by Hassan Ammar/AFP/Getty Images.

Then algae came bouncing along, and something beautiful happened.

Algae, one of the oldest lifeforms on the planet, had been drifting through the ocean waters for millions of years, attaching itself to anything it could in order to reproduce.

Algae! Photo via Simon Andrews/Wikimedia Commons.

Algae found a home with coral, and the two quickly fell in love.

Coral provides carbon nutrients and protection for algae, and algae provides food for coral through its photosynthesis. It's a perfect symbiotic partnership, and algae and coral found out they were a match made in heaven. On Earth. In the ocean.

Everyone was happy. Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images.

For hundreds of millions of years, coral and algae's relationship has been rock solid. But times are unfortunately changing.

You know how sudden, massive changes in your life can put a stress on your relationship? Like the loss of a job or a death in the family? Well, the same thing can happen to coral and algae.

When the couple's environment experiences sudden changes, coral reefs can get stressed out, which affects its ability to be the good, supportive partner algae fell in love with. The algae is then forced to abandon the coral and seek out a better life elsewhere in the sea.

This is a process known as coral bleaching.

The coral looks "bleached" because algae is what gives it its bright green color. Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images.

One of the largest coral reefs in the world, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, has been abandoned by almost all of its algae.

It's one of the most significant coral bleaching events ever recorded and possibly the biggest oceanic celebrity breakup since South America left Africa in the great Pangea split.

Currently, 93% of the Great Barrier Reef has been left by its algae — a scarily high number, one which has never been seen before.

The Great Barrier Reef is visited by about 1.6 million people every year. Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images.

Who's to blame for this deep-sea Shakespearian romantic tragedy?

One of the most significant coral stressors is changing ocean surface temperatures. The "photosynthetic efficiency" of coral and algae's millennias-old lovefest drops if temperatures become too warm or too cold.

Lately, human-made climate change has pushed ocean surface temperatures way above normal. Australian ocean temperatures are also greatly affected by El Niño, which has recently become more extreme as a result of the greenhouse warming of the planet.

Greenpeace activists painting a message on the side of a coal ship. Photo by Greenpeace via Getty Images.

That temperature shift has forced algae to pack its bags and leave the Great Barrier Reef cold, lonely, and in serious danger.

To be fair, parts of the Great Barrier Reef will regain their algae population when (or if) ocean temperatures drop back down. But scientists have already seen large portions of the reef permanently die due to the sudden loss of algae.

Some scientists estimate that the Great Barrier Reef will face total extinction in decades. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images.

Global climate change will also continue to produce temperature extremes unless we do something about it, meaning that coral stressors will become worse and worse every year, and these bleaching events will become even more significant.

There are 8 billion reasons to fight climate change. Now there's one more.

One of Earth's oldest and best love stories is coming to an end off the coast of Australia, but fighting back against climate change can save it.

If you don't want to do it for humanity, do it for Earth's greatest couple. Do it for a partnership that deserves to continue.

Do it for love.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.