Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Worst Bleaching Event on Record

The northern Great Barrier Reef suffered the worst bleaching event in its recorded history in 2015-16 due to elevated water temperatures.  About 26% of corals died in this region of the reef according to Australian scientists at James Cook University, Queensland.  The southern reaches of the Reef south of Mackay fared better with a 1% or less loss of coral.  Corals can recover from brief periods of warming, but prolonged elevation of water temperatures is fatal. In warmer water, corals eject the symbiotic algae that provide them with nutrients turning their skeletal structures white.  It will take 10-15 years for the coral to regrow, but in the interim another warming event, often associated with El Niño, could cause more devastation.