The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officially declared that oceans are going through the longest coral bleaching ever recorded, and it is just getting worse. However, some researchers stay optimistic on the coral spawn.
The agency stated that coral reefs around the world are suffering from bleaching because of the high temperatures of the water. The bleaching event was declared last year as the longest one ever recorded, and it was expected to end by the middle of the year. Now, the NOAA’s latest climate model-based forecast suggests that it will last through the end of 2016, making it even longer.
NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program is already focusing on a way to look out for the endangered species as they face their harshest times. As researchers and scientists, understanding and studying coral and its behavior is key to coming out with a solution that benefits them.
While waters get warmer and dirtier, the algae that interacts and live in corals is expelled. This keeps them from feeding the corals and providing them with the nutrients they need. Then the corals lose their bright colors by calcifying, which could lead to the death of the organisms.
2016 has been one of the hottest years for the oceans. 2016 El Niño was registered as one of the toughest ever, causing unprecedented water warming in the eastern Pacific, and with it, a major bleaching event. As El Niño leaves, it’s sister phenomenon La Niña will arrive to keep water warm.
According to NOAA, the damage is expected to reach reefs in Hawaii, The Gulf of Mexico, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and the Caribbean.
Tourism is affecting corals
Coral reefs located in touristic points were particularly susceptible to damages. A study made by University of Central Florida biologist John E. Fauth showed that in waters that are regularly visited by divers, there is a high concentration of a harmful chemical found in the components of sunscreen. The compound name is oxybenzone, and it increases the bleaching and the killing of the corals. The concentration of the chemical can be reduced by not diving in the water with sunscreen on.
Some localities are developing ways to decrease human-caused damage to help them out on keeping healthy and fighting the high temperatures. Especially the ones whose primal economic resource are the reefs themselves.
These localities are an example for the scientific community, which is currently studying the way they manage and coexists with the reefs, Dr. Jack Kittinger of Conservation International stated, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Dr. Kittinger also expressed about the urgent necessity to reduce carbon emissions, which lead to warmer and dirtier waters.
Nevertheless, scientists have found out that certain types of coral are robust and resilient organisms, but there is still a lot to do for them. Higher fat reserves were shown as the result of research going on around these types of corals and as an answer to why they are stronger than the rest. This fat helps them survive more time without the constant nutrients of the algae. These types of coral are becoming the focus of conservation efforts.
Source: Christian Science Monitor