Hawaii to See Widespread Coral Bleaching, NOAA Warns

posted: 09/14/15
by: Discovery.com Staff
Bleached coral
J. Roff via Wikimedia Commons

Hawaii's picturesque coral reef could soon be subjected to its worst spate of bleaching yet, experts warn. Citing rising sea temperatures and the impending El Nino, NOAA's Coral Reef Watch Program has projected that conditions conducive to severe coral bleaching will persist through the end of October.

Last year saw the first widespread coral bleaching across Hawaii, including the worst episode of local bleaching to date in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, largely due to rising temperatures.

"When water is too warm, corals will expel the algae (zooxanthellae) living in their tissues causing the coral to turn completely white," NOAA explains on its website. Pollution, sunlight overexposure and air exposure during low tide can also contribute to coral bleaching.

Luckily, there are steps that can be taken to minimize the damage done to vulnerable coral populations.

"Being extra careful to not damage corals, preventing pollution inputs, and using pono fishing practices can help corals to recover from this bleaching event," Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources Chair Suzanne Case explains in a news release.

"If we fail to protect them and lose them, it could have tremendously negative impacts not only on the overall ocean ecosystem but on Hawaii's economy," Case adds.

Learn more about coral:

show more details
Coral Seas: Reef at Night

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