Panama bleaching

Alan E Strong Alan.E.Strong at
Wed Jul 31 12:56:47 EDT 2002

Marilyn et al.,

NOAA's Coral Reef Watch Program shows "degree heating weeks" reached
levels of barely "3" in the Atlantic off Panama this past
enough for some spotty bleaching but hopefully not enough accumulation
of thermal
stress for significant mortality....

Our first hint of HotSpots in the Atlantic off Panama begin June 10th!:

One piece of GOOD news is that much the tropical Atlantic is cooler this


Marilyn Brandt wrote:

> During the June 11-15th Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment (AGRRA)
> expedition to the Archipiélago de Bocas del Toro in northwestern Panamá,
> bleached stony corals were noted in shallow reefs near Islas Aqua,
> Bastimentos and Popa, at Cayo Coral, Cayos Zapatilla and, most
> dramatically, at Tobobo on the eastern side of the Península Valiente.
> (please see link for photos:  However,
> we observed no bleaching from June 16-28 further east on reefs located
> in the western area of the Kuna Yala.
> The preliminary results of our quantitative assessments are as follows:
> Cayos Zapatilla A (N 9° 16.366', W 82° 3.956'), depth 12 m., live stony
> coral cover  ~28%; ~23% of the stony corals that were >10 cm in diameter
> (including Acropora palmata and Porites astreoides) exhibited pale to
> complete bleaching.
> Cayos Zapatilla B (N 9° 25.399', W 82° 19.45') depth 0.52m, live stony
> coral cover ~10%; ~22% of the >10 cm stony corals (including Montastrea
> annularis, Millepora alcicornis, and P. astreoides) were pale to
> completely bleached. A. palmata was present but no bleaching was noted;
> approximately half of these colonies were "old standing dead."
> Tobobo (N 9° 6.454', W 81° 49.351' and 9° 6.374', W 81° 49.245'), 1-4 m,
> live stony coral cover ~25-40%;partial to complete bleaching affected
> ~50% of the >10 cm corals, primarily Acropora palmata and M. complanata,
> and was particularly conspicuous at <2m.
> Shallow reefs in the Bocas del Toro area experienced extremely low tides
> in early June (from 12 cm on June 1 to 6 cm on June 4). Seawater
> temperature was unusually warm and its salinity was unusually low at
> permanent reef survey sites near the Smithsonian Tropical Research
> Institute¹s Bocas del Toro research station on June 12 (Arturo Dominici,
> pers. comm.). Hence bleaching may have been initiated by stresses
> associated with high temperatures, low salinity and exposure. Enhanced
> radiation might also have contributed offshore in the Cayos Zapatilla
> and at Tobobo, but is less likely closer to Bocas del Toro where
> seawater is routinely discolored by the presence of dissolved organic
> molecules.
> During the last month, bleaching has extended to depths of 5m (but no
> deeper) and affected the giant anemone, Condylactis gigantea, in
> addition to stony corals (Javier Jara, pers. comm.). A lens of fresh
> water has been floating near the surface in the area of Bocas del Toro,
> and extreme low tides (from -9 to -12 cm) occurred again from July 9 to
> July 15th.
> Marilyn Brandt, Judith Lang, Juan Maté, and Robert Ginsburg for the
> PANAGRRA field team, which also included Jorge Andréve, Arcadio
> Castillo, Cam Hernández, Ken Marks and Ryan Moyer.
> Sponsored by the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines¹ Ocean Fund and the Ocean
> Research and Education Foundation. We are grateful to the Smithsonian
> Tropical Research Institute, in particular the Caption and crew of the
> RV Urraca and the staff at the Bocas del Toro research, station for
> assistance in the field.
> Marilyn E. Brandt
> National Center for Caribbean Coral Reef Research (NCORE)
> Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS)
> University of Miami
> 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway
> Miami, FL 33149
> Ph. 305.361.4827     Fx. 305.361.4910
> website:
> ~~~~~~~
> For directions on subscribing and unsubscribing to coral-list or the
> digests, please see .

**** <>< ******* <>< ******* <>< ******* <>< *******
Alan E. Strong
Team Leader, Marine Applications Science Team (MAST)
Coral Reef Watch Project Coordinator
Phys Scientist/Oceanographer
  NOAA Science Center -- RM 711W
  5200 Auth Road
  Camp Springs, MD 20746-4304
        Alan.E.Strong at
             301-763-8102 x170
              FAX: 301-763-8572

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