Coral bleaching (in which corals lose their color) happens due to the thermal stress that affects the symbiotic relationship between corals and their algae. Hughes et al., 2017 describe (through both aerial and ground truthing evidence) that the Great Barrier reef has gone through mass bleaching events in 1998, 2002 and 2016. In this most recent event (2016), the effects on the reef were much worse, as seas surface temperatures were higher, more reefs were bleached, and the reefs affected were bleached at a higher intensity. Northern reefs on the eastern coast of Australia saw the most detrimental effects. Unfortunately, water quality and fishing pressure do not have a large effect in contrast to the overall bleaching. However, it remains important to continue to promote the recovery of reefs through local management and water quality, especially to a reef as economically and ecologically important as the Great Barrier reef. Ultimately, we need urgent and rapid action to reduce global warming to support the reef through the bleaching resistance. – Annie
Image via: By Samuel Chow (originally posted to Flickr as Bleached Coral)
Citation – Hughes, T. P., Kerry, J. T., Álvarez-Noriega, M., Álvarez-Romero, J. G., Anderson, K. D., Baird, A. H., … & Bridge, T. C. (2017). Global warming and recurrent mass bleaching of corals. Nature, 543(7645), 373-377.
Authors – Terry P. Hughes, James T. Kerry, Mariana Álvarez-Noriega, Jorge G. Álvarez-Romero, Kristen D. Anderson, Andrew H. Baird, Russell C. Babcock, Maria Beger, David R. Bellwood, Ray Berkelmans, Tom C. Bridge, Ian R. Butler, Maria Byrne, Neal E. Cantin, Steve Comeau, Sean R. Connolly, Graeme S. Cumming, Steven J. Dalton, Guillermo Diaz-Pulido, C. Mark Eakin, Will F. Figuera, James P. Gilmour, Hugo B. Harrison, Scott F. Heron, Andrew S. Hoey, Jean-Paul A. Hobbs, Mia O. Hoogenboom, Emma V. Kennedy, Chao-yang Kuo, Janice M. Lough, Ryan J. Lowe, Gang Liu, Malcolm T. McCulloch, Hamish A. Malcolm, Michael J. McWilliam, John M. Pandolfi, Rachel J. Pears, Morgan S. Pratchett, Verena Schoepf, Tristan Simpson, William J. Skirving, Brigitte Sommer, Gergely Torda, David R. Wachenfeld, Bette L. Willis & Shaun K. Wilson.
Presenter – Annie Tamalavage