Japanese marine biologists established that 90 percent of the coral reef located in the Sekisei Lagoon has bleached, whereas 70 percent of it died. According to the statistics, this is the worst bleaching event which ever occurred in Japan.
The researchers conducted the latest survey from September 1st to November 1st, 2016, and they discovered that 56.7 percent of the coral reef was already dead, while 97 percent of it had bleached.
A previous study conducted during the summer revealed that 89.6 percent of the Japanese coral reef had been affected by the bleaching event, whereas just 5.4 percent of it had died. The marine biologists underline that the last summer was marked by high ocean temperatures.
This represents the primary factor influencing the coral bleaching event across the world. More precisely, the scientists added that the water temperatures in the most affected areas increased up to more than 30 degrees Celsius.
The average temperatures at the sea surface are usually about 29 degrees Celsius. Although it is not much of a difference, two degrees Celsius are more than enough to trigger the bleaching event.
The statistics from the Japan Meteorological Agency have shown that the median sea surface temperatures in Japan increased by roughly 1.07 degrees Celsius over the past century, which represents more than double the world’s median warming rate.
Nevertheless, many other countries have been affected by the coral bleaching event over the past decade. Besides the environmental factors of climate change, the experts believe that the violent El Niño event which began in 2015 also played a major role in the destruction of coral reefs.
The Great Barrier Reef suffered the largest damage extent. The latest studies have revealed that up to 91 percent of the Great Barrier Reef was affected by bleaching. Worse, more than 60 percent of the corals died in some locations.
The marine biologists found that many reefs throughout the world were devastated by bleaching, including those in the Western Pacific, the Caribbean, and other areas around the United States.
One viable alternative to protect and preserve the coral reefs would be a coral breeding program and other conservation initiatives which would tackle pollution and illegal fishing. Also, the specialists underline that bleaching doesn’t mean that nothing can be done to facilitate the recovery of the reefs.
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