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9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Chemistry, Biology

Resource Type

  • Videos, 3 minutes, 48 seconds, CC, Subtitles

Regional Focus



PDF, Downloadable MP4/M4V

Coral Bleaching

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  • In this downloadable animation, students explore the symbiotic relationship between algae and corals, seeing what happens when ocean temperatures get too hot.
  • Students will learn how and why coral bleaching happens and see the parts of the algae and coral cells that are involved.
Teaching Tips


  • The animation starts from a satellite image of the Earth and zooms all the way in to see the inner workings of an individual coral and its symbiotic algae cells.

Additional Prerequisites

  • There is a PDF transcript of the video that can be downloaded and the video is available in a number of different formats (in HD or SD).
  • The material is also available in Spanish.
  • You must download the video before watching it.


  • It may be helpful for students to pause the animation at various points to discuss specific parts of the corals or algae, as well as different steps in the process.
  • The teacher could ask advanced students to use the video as a basis for a presentation of their own to explain the coral bleaching process to their classmates.
  • After watching this video, students could graph and analyze ocean temperature data for coral reef sites around the world.
  • This would be an excellent animation to accompany lessons about photosynthesis, cellular respiration, organelles, cells, symbiotic relationships, heat energy, ocean ecosystems, and chemical reactions.
  • Other recommended resources include Resistance to Coral Bleaching and Interactive Exploration of Coral Bleaching.
Scientist Notes
The resource outlines the main process of coral bleaching to enable students to explore and measure bleaching as it relates to temperature change. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Science
    • LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
      • HS.LS1.2 Develop and use a model to illustrate the hierarchical organization of interacting systems that provide specific functions within multicellular organisms.
      • HS.LS1.5 Use a model to illustrate how photosynthesis transforms light energy into stored chemical energy.
    • LS2: Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics
      • HS.LS2.1 Use mathematical and/or computational representations to support explanations of factors that affect carrying capacity of ecosystems at different scales.
      • HS.LS2.2 Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales.
      • HS.LS2.8 Evaluate evidence for the role of group behavior on individual and species’ chances to survive and reproduce.
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