FREE PRESS COLUMN: Pokémon coral character changed to represent the current climate crisis in the world's oceans

Columnist Kirsty-Jo Muddiman explores the link between beloved childhood video game and climate change.

Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 11:45 am
Updated Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 11:45 am
Switzerland's Leo, 9, looks at his phone during the Pokemon Go Festival on July 4, 2019 at the Westfalenpark in Dortmund, western Germany. - The festival runs until July 7. (Photo by INA FASSBENDER / AFP) (Photo credit should read INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images)

“Both of my kids, and several adult members of my family have a soft spot for Pokémon.

“The endless opportunities to catch, battle and evolve favourite Pokémon mean that virtual affection is gained, far surpassing the bond I got from my Tamagotchi in the 90’s.

“Oshawott, the sea-otter like Pokémon, was honoured in felt during one primary school craft session and resides in the memory box in my wardrobe.

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“If your favourite is Corsola, a coral-based Pokémon, you may be saddened to hear that Corsola has succumbed to coral bleaching.

“Corsola is now considered a ghost-type Pokémon with the description being, “Sudden climate change wiped out this ancient kind of Corsola.

“Formerly a pink smiling depiction of branched coral, the new Corsola is white and transparent with a sad mouth, bleached of its vibrant colour.

“This is a strong message and reflects the mood of the younger generation acting against climate change.

“Coral is a symbiotic organism.

“Animal and plant live together co-dependently, each giving the other something they need.

“Apart, they can only survive for short periods of time.

“Algae, the plant part of the relationship, gives the coral its colour.

“When the algae leave the coral all that is left to see is the calcium skeleton beneath, which is white.

“This is coral bleaching - if the algae do not return to the coral, the white structure turns grey and we know the coral has been lost forever.

“This is coral death.

“Why coral bleaching occurs can be complex, but we do know that rising sea temperatures contribute.

“Global warming directly affects coral reefs.

“Another factor is pollution.

“Many popular tourist resorts have banned the use of sunscreens containing substances known to be toxic to coral when visiting coral reefs or enjoying water sports nearby.

“The delicate ecological balance of life in the marine reef can withstand only minor environmental changes and rising pollution levels can have devastating effects.

“The Yorkshire Wildlife Trusts encourages us to eat fish from a sustainable source to help protect UK reefs and to avoid cosmetics which contain microplastics.”