Massive Coral Bleaching Event Imminent Scientists Say

NOAA's Coral Reef Watch also expects bleaching to occur in the Caribbean and also in The Hawaiian Islands.

Table corals already showing whitening in April 2015. Photo by Living Oceans Foundations.

Coral reefs in the Pacific and Indian oceans are starting to whiten, in what scientists say will become the third major bleaching event on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The most significant bleaching event on record occurred in 1998 when warm waters of an El Niño  decimated 16 percent of the corals in the world’s oceans. Another similar event occurred in 2010.

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NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch predicts a global bleaching event during the remainder of 2015

“We’re in the midst of what is likely to be only the third time we’ve had coral bleaching as one big warming event sweeps through the world’s oceans,” Mark Eakin at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) told RTCC.

NOAA released a report June 2 that says that full fledged bleaching event appears likely as warming in the equatorial Indian Ocean has already caused bleaching in the Maldives as well as the British Indian Ocean Territory. Scientists expect a 60 percent chance of bleaching between June and September 2015 over a wide swath of ocean, from the Pacific into the Indian Ocean.

Scientists expect the bleaching to occur on a global scale but are hoping that the event will be less severe than what occurred in 2010. In addition to the South Pacific and Indian Oceans, NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch expects bleaching to occur in the Caribbean and also in The Hawaiian Islands.

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