JAKARTA, Aug. 16 (UPI) — A conservation group says a massive “bleaching” die-off of coral in Indonesia has been caused by a rise in surface sea temperatures.
“Bleaching”– a whitening of corals that occurs when algae living within coral tissues are expelled — is an indication of stress caused by environmental triggers such as sea surface temperature fluctuations, a Wildlife Conservation Society release said Monday. Marine biologists investigating coral bleaching in May off the northern tip of Sumatra found more than 60 percent of the corals in the area were bleached.
Depending on many factors, bleached coral may recover over time or it can die, the release said.
Subsequent monitoring by marine ecologists from Australia and Indonesia completed in early August revealed one of the most rapid and severe coral mortality events ever recorded. Scientists found 80 percent of some species had died since the initial assessment and more colonies are expected to die within the next few months.
The event, researchers say, is the result of a rise in sea surface temperatures in the Andaman Sea, an area that includes the coasts of Myanmar, Thailand, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and northwestern Indonesia.
“It’s a disappointing development particularly in light of the fact that these same corals proved resilient to other disruptions to this ecosystem, including the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004,” WCS Indonesia Marine Program Director Stuart Campbell said.
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