The Wildlife Conservation Society reports that a dramatic rise in the surface temperature in Indonesian waters has resulted in a devastating blow to coral populations. The event called ‘bleaching’ occurs when algae living within coral tissues are expelled as a result of environmental stress.
Researchers at WCS, James Cook University (Australia), and Syiah Kuala University (Indonesia) say this is one of the most dramatic coral bleaching events ever recorded, with an extraordinary mortality rate of up to 80 percent of death in some species. More are expected to die in the coming months.
These same coral systems survived the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.
The event is the result of a rise in sea surface temperatures in the Andaman Sea — an area that includes the coasts of Myanmar, Thailand, the Andaman and Nicobar Island, and northwestern Indonesia. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Hotspots website, temperatures in the region peaked in late May of 2010, when the temperature reached 34 degrees Celsius — 4 degrees Celsius higher than long term averages for the area. via Science Daily
As videos in our earlier reporting discusses, the loss of coral reefs will have devasting impact on local fisheries in the region.