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Oct 8, 2019

High Level of Coral Bleaching Detected; Warmer Temperatures Responsible

As you heard, the coral reef monitoring team is working with regional partners to learn more about the stony coral tissue loss disease. But that is just one problem that the corals in Belize are facing. Another threat that we’ve reported on is the issue of coral bleaching.  In recent years, Belize has reported high levels of bleaching in some of its sites and according to preliminary surveys done in 2019, there is massive bleaching happening.  This is expected due to the warm temperatures we have experienced this year.  Just this week, Coral Watch issued an alert Level one and Level two for coral bleaching conditions in the region. Today, coral expert and founder of Fragments of Hope, Lisa Carne, shared some of her observations.

 

Lisa Carne

Lisa Carne, Founder & Executive Director, Fragments of Hope

“October is our peak month. We just put out about a three minute video on this whole topic that you can access Fragments of Hope or on our website. In a nutshell 2017 was the most severe bleaching event that Mesoamerica has seen since the 1998 even. It’s become true that there is some level of bleaching almost every year. What differs is the severity each year. So in 2017 we actually has some partial mortality meaning the cause of some deaths of corals where sometimes when it is not so severe it can recover, but even when they recover they sort of set backed. They are stressed out so they don’t grow as well. So this is an annual event and it has been happening all over the world. It is getting worse every year. That is directly due to climate change. The only good news again is that the corals that we work with are beginning to show some thermal tolerance. So those specific corals at Laughing Bird Caye they never bleached in 2017 and this is highlighted in our video. Sort of way forward when we are talking about restoring reefs that we make sure that we look at the stronger corals that are somewhat already adapted to the higher temperatures that we are experiencing and this year we are seeing bleaching as well.”


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