The high temperatures in the ocean caused the worst coral bleaching in history of Hawaii.
The process of colar bleaching is explained by the loss of intracellula, either through the loss or expulsion of algal pigmentation. In conditions of stress and unfavorable temperature, corals may lose their zoocanthellae, determining a loss of color which leads to an entirely white appearance.
The surrounding stretches of water of the Hawaiian islands have become so warm they affected the coral fauna’s coloring. The ocean temperatures increased by as much as four degrees Fahrenheit this year.
This has become a huge issue for Hawaii, as this is the second consecutive year when the state is affected by coral bleaching. Last year the Hawaiian Islands were affected by the ocean’s increasing temperatures too.
The bad news is that this year the situation is much worse, as coral bleaching has spread to the southern Hawaiian Islands. Scientists, state residents, as well as some tourists, have observed the severe coral bleaching spread. The main culpit for this year’s coral bleaching was a powerful El Niño Southern Oscillation.
Brian Neilson, aquatic biologist at the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), declared that “Coral bleaching is a result of a loss of algae living within the coral’s tissue that provide them with energy and give them their colors. This loss results in the pale or white ‘bleached’ appearance of the impacted corals. When corals bleach, they lose a supply of energy and become particularly vulnerable to additional environmental stress.”
A team of experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) program said that this year’s coral bleaching will cover the entire Hawaiian group of islands, from Kure Atoll, the most northern Hawaiian island, all the way to the state’s southernmost islands.
NOAA, together with the state officials, have begun actively monitoring the surrounding Hawaiian waters to see what they can about the situation. Suzanne Case, chair at the Department of Land and Natural Resources, stepped up with a few advices for the state officials. Besides being extra careful not to damage the corals, the officials should start preventing pollution in the area as much as they can, and allow only safe and responsible fishing practices.
In the last couple of decades, nearly 40% of the world’s reef died due to severe bleaching incidents. Case also stresses that corals are detrimental to Hawaii’s economy which depends mostly on tourism. Scientists have scheduled a news conference on Friday, where they will discuss the extent of the bleaching phenomenon.
Photo Credits wikipedia