Global Coral Bleaching Likely Ending, NOAA States

First Posted: Jun 26, 2017 05:25 AM EDT

Analysis of satellite and model data showed that worldwide coral reef bleaching may finally be ending. Scientists will still have to monitor the temperatures of sea surface over the next six months, but it seems that so far, there has been no further bleaching in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans.

In the American scientific agency's official website, NOAA stated that tropical coral reefs around the world have now seen above-normal temperatures, with over 70 percent experiencing prolonged high-temperatures. Such high surface temperatures are usually the cause of bleaching in corals, with U.S. coral reefs being hit the hardest. Already, Florida and Hawaii experienced two straight years of severe bleaching, three straight years in the Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands and four straight years in Guam.

Despite the seemingly dangerous events, some coral reef areas did avoid bleaching to the point of damaging conditions. Jennifer Koss, director of the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program, stated that there are proactive steps to take to ensure that coral reef ecosystems become more resilient and to find innovative ways of increasing coral populations.

While bleaching seems to be tapering off some areas, Guam still seems to be in danger of more bleaching. In fact, a USA Today report noted that the NOAA Coral Reef Watch is already forecasting a bleaching Alert Level One within five to eight weeks. At this level, coral bleaching is likely to happen. At Alert Level Two, coral death is foreseen.

Guam's record has been negative for a few years now. NOAA reported that Guam experienced coral bleaching in 2013, 2014 and 2016. Despite not experiencing coral bleaching in 2015, it still got damaged by extremely low tides.

Bleached coral can still survive and recover, if the right conditions present themselves. However, they are still highly vulnerable and can die at a faster rate than their polyp growth, making recovery more difficult.

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