Bleaching is putting coral reefs around the globe in even greater danger than they already are. A result of warmer ocean temperatures, coral bleaching causes change in color and can result in death of the symbiotic algae within the coral skeleton.
NOAA has sent out a warning report, finding that a global coral bleaching event that began last year in the Pacific Ocean may be spreading to the western Atlantic – and to Hawaiʻi. This not only means harm to Hawaiʻi’s beautiful blue seas but could have an effect on the long-term supply of seafood and a decline in the state’s tourism-based economy.
A study by NOAA quantified the economic value of the Hawaiʻi’s coral reefs at almost $34 billion.
Although as much as 60 percent of Hawaiʻi’s corals have bleached since last fall, 90 percent of the corals have recovered and even reproduced; a sign of good coral health and maybe even resilience. However, with higher than average ocean temperatures already this year, the idea of a second bleaching event brings some fright.
If you live in Hawaiʻi nei and observe coral bleaching or invasive species, please submit a report with Eyes of the Reef Hawaiʻi.
To learn more about coral bleaching and ways scientists are working to combat it, click here.