Coral Bleach-Out In Belize

Precht, Bill Bprecht at
Thu May 11 15:23:14 EDT 2000


I have been deluged with requests for information regarding the salient
points for the article that appeared in Nature 405: 36 (04 May 2000): by RB
Aronson, WF Precht, IG Macintyre & TJT Murdoch
He is a summary:

(1) 1998 was the hottest year on record in the tropical oceans of the world.

(2) The high temperatures were created by a combination of El Nino 
conditions and continuing global warming.

(3) The high temperatures caused coral bleaching worldwide.

(4) In Belize, coral populations in lagoonal habitats were killed by the 
bleaching, and this is the first time anyone has observed a mass coral 
kill related to bleaching in the Caribbean.  Mass coral mortalities have 
occurred in the Indo-Pacific over the past two decades--related to El 
Nino conditions, but not, until now, in the Caribbean.

(5) We cored these reefs in Belize to look for evidence of previous mass 
coral kills.  Our paleontological studies show that never before in AT 
LEAST the last 3,000 years have coral populations been wiped out by 

(6) These paleontological results provide the first strong evidence linking
warming to the decline of reefs.

Please note that we explicitly stated that reefs from the Belizean barrier
suffered only partial mortality with subsequent recovery from the 1998
bleaching event and that the mass mortality was confined to an area in the
south/central lagoon.

I hope this once again helps to clear up any misinterpretation or
exaggeration in any of the international press releases.



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