Environment | VOL. 8, ISSUE 46, January-February 2008

Coral Reef Bleaching

Coral reef bleaching is caused by anthropogenic and natural variations in reef environment including warm sea surface temperature, solar irradiance, sedimentation, xenobiotics, subaerial exposure, inorganic nutrients, freshwater dilution, and epizootics. Coral bleaching events have been increasing in both frequency and extent worldwide in the past 20 years. Global climate change plays a role in the increase in coral bleaching events, and could cause destruction of major reef tracts and extinction of many coral species. Until 1980’s, the only coral bleaching event recorded was due to flooding from Hurricane Flora that resulted in a large drop in salinity - bleaching and killing corals in Jamaica. Mass coral bleaching was first recognised on the Pacific coast of Panama following the 1982-83 El Nino, which caused the death of over 99 percent of corals and the complete loss of reef structures in the Galapagos Islands and the death of over 50 percent of corals in Panama. The sensitivity of corals to minute sea temperature changes then became a major concern of researchers as predictions of global warming and stronger, farther-reaching El Nino events came to light. The 1997-98 El Nino is the strongest on record, resulting in unprecedented coral bleaching and death across the globe.   Causes of Bleaching As coral reef bleaching is a general response to stress, it can be induced by a variety of factors,...

To purchase this article, kindly sign in

Comments are closed.