According to a The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report issued last week, another major coral bleaching event hits world oceans. The event is the third largest coral bleaching event on record.
Researchers reported that they observed widespread damage to reefs in the North Pacific first, then they saw bleaching spreading to the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean. The last stop was in the Caribbean and Hawaii.
NOAA biologists suspect that rising sea temperatures caused by climate change made situation even worse for corals worldwide this year. NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch recently reported that we are losing corals at an alarming rate both in the U.S. and across the world. NOAA predicts that the current coral bleaching event’s effects may last well into next year.
The agency also reported that by the end of this year 95 percent of world’s coral reef will experience conditions that make them prone to bleaching events. In the Pacific bleaching is so severe that corals disappear at a pace of 2 percent per year. But at this rate, it would require half of century for all of them to completely vanish.
Bleaching is the corals’ response to a stressful environment. When sea temperatures are too high or pollution is unbearable they eject the algae that thrive within them and provide them with the vivid colors. As a result, the reefs turn white overnight. But if there are too many heat waves, or there is too much stress and they cannot properly recover they eventually die.
As a NOAA researcher put it, coral bleaching is the marine version of tropical forests turning white before dying.
But ejecting the symbiotic algae from their core is also leaving corals without their major source of food. Moreover, when entire reefs die, hundreds of marine species need to seek another home. Local communities are also affected because coral reefs are an important source of revenue from tourism and they also protect shorelines from devastating storms.
Furthermore, according to NOAA another major coral bleaching event hits world oceans and the event may be made even worse in 2016 when El Niño is expected to strike.
The phenomenon would produce massive bleaching events in the Indian and southeast Pacific Oceans starting next year, but the amount of damage worries researchers since the local events may turn into a global event by the end of 2016, just like it happened this year, NOAA experts said.
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