Daily Archives: 04/02/2006

Coral Death

Marine biologists are sounding a warning about the Caribbean: As a result of last year’s unprecedented high surface temperatures in the Caribbean Sea, the region’s coral reefs have suffered a massive die off known as coral bleaching. Up to a third of the coral around Puerto Rico has died in the last few months, succumbing to a one-two punch of bleaching and disease.

This is not a new problem; it struck in the Pacific a few years ago. I remember massive coral bleaching in Palau after the 1998 El Niño event. And last month’s devastating Cyclone Larry may have staved off a similar die off along the Great Barrier Reef by releasing a great deal of the pent up heat in the Coral Sea. It is probably safe to say that coral reefs are among the most endangered places on the planet right now, and the inexorable rise in global temperatures does not bode well for their continued survival.