Scientists Warn About Coral Reef Bleaching Ongoing From Hawaii To The Indian Ocean

Posted: Oct 8 2015, 2:58am CDT | by , Updated: Oct 8 2015, 10:11pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Scientists Warn About Coral Reef Bleaching Ongoing
Photo credit: XL Catlin Seaview Survey

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), XL Catlin Seaview Survey, Reef Check, and The University of Queensland in Australia have warned that a worldwide coral reef bleaching is currently ongoing from Hawaii to the Indian Ocean.

This is the third time that massive coral reef bleaching would be occurring on a global scale, and the scientists warn it could lead to the loss of over 12,000 square kilometers or 4,500 square miles of coral in 2015 alone, and it could even extend into 2016 – with US tropical regions and Hawaii being at particular risks.

Coral bleaching occurs when the combined effects of global warming, El Nino, and warming waters sweep over a particular region of the ocean where coral reefs thrive.

The first and second global coral bleaching events occurred in 1998 and 2010, “and those were pretty much one year events. We’re looking at a similar spatial scale of bleaching across the globe, but spanning across at least 2 years. So that means a lot of these corals are being put under really prolonged stress, or are being hit 2 years in a row,” said Mark Eakin, head of NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch.

“This is only the third time we’ve seen what we would refer to as a global bleaching event, an event that causes mass bleaching in the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, and the Atlantic-Caribbean basin,” Eakin added.

Nancy Knowlton, an expert on coral reefs with the Smithsonian Institution disclosed that reports of coral bleaching in various parts of the world have been filtering in, but the official confirmation is now here, and more bad news could come considering the fact that El Nino is now gathering strength.

“No reefs that experience unusually warm waters are likely to escape unscathed, but reefs already suffering from overfishing and pollution may have a particularly rough time recovering, based on what we have learned from past bleaching events,” Knowlton said.

Coral reef bleaching events happen when warm ocean waters that are much warmer than the coral reefs sweep over them for a prolonged length of time. This causes stress to the organisms and they banish the symbiotic algae that provide color and nutrients to the corals. In the end, the corals turn white and vulnerable to further marine attacks, and they may later die off.

“Coral reefs are the underwater equivalent of rainforests, and by removing the corals, you remove the trees of that underwater world,” adds Richard Vevers, head of the XL Catlin Seaview Survey.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/52" rel="author">Charles I. Omedo</a>
Charles is covering the latest discoveries in science and health as well as new developments in technology. He is the Chief Editor or Intel-News.




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