High seawater temperatures cause worst coral bleaching since 1998
Temperatures continue to look bad for the Caribbean in 2010. At this point, our Degree Heating Week product is as bad as, or worse than, this time in 2005. Our Seasonal Bleaching Outlook indicates there continues to be a risk of thermal stress in 2010 at levels similar to 2005. The good news is that areas north of the Greater Antilles and in the Gulf of Mexico do not seem to be at as high a risk. Temperatures in the Caribbean have been above normal since January. Bleaching reports have now come in from Texas in the north to Panama in the west, to Tobago in the southeast.
My biggest concern right now is in the Lesser Antilles and especially in the Aruba-Curacao-Bonaire-Los Roques region where we are seeing the highest temperatures ever and this is likely to continue for another month. The ABCs were spared major thermal stress in 2005 but don’t look so lucky this year.
A webinar on this topic was recorded and can be accessed in the “events” tab at http://www.reefresilience.org/
The full outlook can be found at http://coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/satellite/bleachingoutlook/index.html and will be updated to October shortly.
An article on this also made the cover of the New York Times on Sept. 21:
Please make sure this information gets distributed widely. We need people to be aware that they should continue to be alert for bleaching in the Caribbean for another month. Please let us know what you are seeing out there.
Source: NOAA (Dr. Mark Eakin)
Some impressions from Curacao’s reefs near the eastern tip of the island (Oostpunt). The “whitish” colonies are the ones that are “bleached”