By Stephen Leahy*
[There hasn’t been much news about the impacts of the record warming of parts of the world’s oceans but severe coral bleaching in the Indian ocean resulted in widespread coral death. Sadly the Caribbean also at high risk this month with record high water temps. My article connects that reality with how a new approach to protecting corals may give them the best chance to survive in hotter, more acidic oceans. — Stephen]
UXBRIDGE, Canada, Sep 13, 2010 (Tierramérica)
The waters of the Caribbean Sea are the warmest on record and the region’s imperilled corals are bleaching and beginning to die, experts warn.
This year many corals are already bleached and dying in the southern Caribbean Sea, especially in the Lesser Antilles, according to Mark Eakin coordinator of Coral Reef Watch at the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
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The waters are even warmer than they were in 2005 when a severe bleaching occurred across much of the Caribbean. More than 60 percent of corals around the U.S. Virgin Islands died, Eakin told Tierramérica.
Water temperatures in this region reach their annual peak between September and October.
The area affected by bleaching and dying corals will likely extend to the region east of Nicaragua, past the island of Hispaniola (Haiti and Dominican Republic) to Puerto Rico and the Lesser Antilles, and south along the Caribbean coasts of Panama and South America, according to a warning issued by Coral Reef Watch last month.
“There is the potential that this will be worse than 2005, unless some tropical storms come through and mix the warm surface water with deeper, cooler water,” Eakin said.