coral bleaching

Alan Strong astrong at
Fri Jul 3 11:31:55 EDT 1998

This NOAA Press Release that went out 1 July based on our
research/collaborations has an image that can be viewed at our WebSite:


This effort has been a genuine collaborative effort! -- thanks to Doug
Fenner at AIMS in Australia for posting this to the "coral-list"! [I had
forgotten to post it today before our 4-th of July holiday!!].  It can be
viewed at NOAA's:


On Fri, 3 Jul 1998, Doug Fenner wrote:

>                                                                NOAA 98-
>      CONTACT:   Patricia Viets, NOAA             FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
>         (301) 457-5005                          xxxxxxx
>      1998 Coral Reef Bleaching in Indian Ocean Unprecedented,
>      NOAA Announces
>         An episode of extremely high ocean temperatures migrated from south
>      to
>      north throughout the Indian Ocean during the first six months of 1998
>      causing considerable coral reef bleaching in its wake, the National
>      Oceanic
>      and Atmospheric Administration reports.
>         Sea surface temperatures, exceeding the maximum values expected for
>      any time during the year, were observed by NOAA's satellites to have
>      exceeded levels critical to cause beaching where these waters overlay
>      Indian Ocean coral reefs.
>         A somewhat similar episode occurred following the 1987 El Nino in
>      the
>      Indian Ocean; however, in 1988 the extreme sea surface temperature
>      anomalies, toxic to corals, moderated sufficiently as the sun moved
>      into
>      the Northern Hemisphere.  In that year, reefs in the Indian Ocean
>      north of
>      the equator were spared heavy bleaching.
>         In 1998, this has not been the case.  Bleaching, earlier projected
>      by
>      NOAA, has been reported from the field on the following reefs:
>      Seychelles;
>      Kenya; Reunion; Mauritius; Somalia; Madagascar; Maldives; Indonesia;
>      Sri
>      Lanka; Gulf of Thailand [Siam]; Andaman Islands; Malaysia; Oman;
>      India; and
>      Cambodia.
>         This unprecedented round of bleaching in coral reefs throughout the
>      Indian Ocean follows El Nino-related bleaching events during late-1997
>      and
>      early-1998 both projected by NOAA's satellite HotSpot charts and
>      documented
>      by reef scientists in Mexico (Pacific), Panama (Pacific); Galapagos;
>      Australia's Great Barrier Reef; Papua New Guinea; and American Samoa.
>         In the Indian Ocean, sea surface temperature anomalies appear to be
>      coming less severe toward the end of June.  The total area covered by
>      "HotSpots" is now only in the northernmost fringes of the Indian
>      Ocean.
>      However, during June the Philippines and the Florida Keys regions have
>      been
>      seeing temperature anomalies sufficiently high that bleaching has been
>      reported and biologists are concerned for reefs there.
>         Coral reefs -- the "rainforests of the oceans" -- support a variety
>      of
>      sea life and provide resources of significant economic importance such
>      as
>      fishing and recreation.  Coral bleaching, induced by high water
>      temperatures, has raised concerns about these fragile ecosystems.
>      Coral
>      bleaching occurs as coral tissue expels zooxanthellae, a type of algae
>      that
>      resides in the structure of the coral, and is essential to the coral's
>      survival.  Corals normally recover, unless high ocean temperatures
>      persist
>      for too long a period or become too warm.
>         Coral Reef "HotSpots"  depicted as regions of yellow/orange in the
>      NOAA/NESDIS charts
>      (
>      highlight
>      those anomalies that are equal to or above the annual maximum sea
>      surface
>      temperatures by +1 deg C or more.
>         HotSpot animations are available at the Oceanic Research &
>      Applications Division's  WebSite:
>         http://
> (please send any replies to addresses found in these web sites, not the
> forwarder of this message, as I have no further information on this.)
> Douglas Fenner, Ph.D.
> Coral Taxonomist
> Australian Institute of Marine Science
> PMB No 3
> Townsville MC
> Queensland 4810
> Australia
> phone 07 4753 4241
> e-mail: d.fenner at

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