Third Ever Global Coral Bleaching Event Declared
Posted by feww on October 8, 2015
Bleaching intensifies in Hawaii, high ocean temperatures threaten Caribbean corals: NOAA
NOAA has declared the third global coral bleaching event ever known, as record high ocean temperatures cause widespread coral bleaching across Hawaii. The researchers also confirmed the same stressful conditions are now expanding to the Caribbean, said a report released today.
Waters are warming in the Caribbean, threatening coral in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, NOAA scientists said. Coral bleaching began in the Florida Keys and South Florida in August, but now scientists expect bleaching conditions there to diminish.
“The coral bleaching and disease, brought on by climate change and coupled with events like the current El Niño, are the largest and most pervasive threats to coral reefs around the world,” said NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch coordinator. “As a result, we are losing huge areas of coral across the U.S., as well as internationally. What really has us concerned is this event has been going on for more than a year and our preliminary model projections indicate it’s likely to last well into 2016.”
“Last year’s bleaching at Lisianski Atoll was the worst our scientists have seen,” said NOAA’s deputy superintendent for the monument. “Almost one and a half square miles of reef bleached last year and are now completely dead.”
Exposure to stressful environmental conditions such as high temperatures causes coral bleaching. Stress causes corals to reject the symbiotic algae living in their tissues, causing corals to turn white or pale, leaving the coral without a major source of food, and making it more susceptible to disease.
The first ever recorded global bleaching occurred in 1998, followed by a second event in 2010, said the report.
October 2015-January 2016: NOAA’s standard 4-month bleaching outlook shows a threat of bleaching continuing in the Caribbean, Hawaii and Kiribati, and potentially expanding into the Republic of the Marshall Islands. (Credit: NOAA)
Report posted at NOAA declares third ever global coral bleaching event