Coral reefs bleached. (Oceania).
Bleaching, a response to heat stress in the coral, causes the coral polyps to expel their symbiotic algae, which provide them with nutrients and give them their color. Some corals can recover by recapturing the algae, but others cannot. Of the most severely bleached reefs surveyed, 50 to 90 percent of the corals were dead.
The bleaching is an expected response to the record high sea temperatures recorded during early 2002. According to Thomas Goreau, president of the Global Coral Reef Alliance in Chappaqua, New York and adviser to the United Nations Environment Programme, almost all the Great Barrier Reef's surface water was 2[degrees]C or more above normal for more than two months from early 3anuary to mid-March. This was hotter and longer than the bleaching episode that wiped out corals in the Maldives, Seychelles, and western Australia in 1998.
The higher surface sea temperatures are attributed to a new El Nino, although it is widely believed that global warming is the key underlying factor and the El Nino event the final coup de grace.
New Scientist, April 2; Environmental News Service, May 23
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Publication:||Earth Island Journal|
|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2002|
|Previous Article:||Thylacine reborn? (Oceania).|
|Next Article:||Native forest saved. (Oceania.|