THE PACIFIC OCEAN — Having slowly watched its reef whiten over the course of several years, on Thursday a local fish expressed concerns that the reef is becoming too gentrified.
“This used to be a close-knit and cultured enclave for fish like us,” remarked the fish. “But with the influx of pollutants compounded with the inevitable climate change, coral bleaching has increased the whiteness of the reef and driven many of us out.”
This gentrification problem is not unique to this individual reef — fish in different oceans across the planet are being displaced from their rapidly-whitening marine neighborhoods. Studies released by marine biologists indicate that nearly 75% of coral reefs are currently gentrifying — and that number is only going to get higher.
“What we see is that as people are getting wealthier, they’re moving their chemicals from the suburbs to the oceans,” explained Mark Jameson, a marine biologist who specializes in submarine socioeconomics. “The whiter these reefs get, the more pressure fish feel to move out; not only is their culture being threatened, but it’s literally not sustainable for them to continue living in a homogeneously white reef.”
The problems posed by gentrification have led to conflict, and even violence.
“I’ve lived near this reef for a long time; I’m quite old and I have never seen the neighborhood change as radically as it is now. The fish of color here don’t quite know how to cope with the changing demographics,” said a local sea cucumber. “They try fighting back against the white corals, but what they don’t understand is that once one of these reefs turns white, it doesn’t go back.” Unable to destroy the bleached corals, the fish often end up turning against each other to release their frustration.
Some fish have stayed in the reef, doomed to a life of violence and poverty, while others have attempted to relocate to the now less-desirable oceanic suburbs, where they’ve begun to spar with their new surroundings. At press time, the newly-suburban fish were protesting the wrongful catching of a black-fin tuna by a porcelain fishing hook, a tragically common result of ethnic tension among aquatic life.