Caribbean bleaching 1982/83 vs. 1987

Billy Causey Billy.Causey at
Sun Sep 29 23:07:51 EDT 2002

The coral reefs in the lower Florida Keys did bleach in 1983 from Looe Key
Reef to Western Dry Rocks off Key West which is a distance of about 25
(check out the map on the FKNMS web site listed below).  Only the outer,
shallow bank reefs bleached that year.  It wasn't until years later that I
learned from Dr. Peter Glynn that the corals had bleached on the Pacific
of Panama during the same time frame.  I did not receive reports of coral
bleaching from other areas that year.

This was the first time we had observed wide scale coral bleaching in the
Florida Keys.  Scattered, patchy bleaching had been observed in the 1970's
due to cold water events and some bleaching during warm water events
associated with doldrum-weather patterns in June and July 1980 had been
previously observed.

Hope this helps some.  Billy Causey

I have written this historical perspective in the following paper:

Causey, B.D. (2001).  Lessons Learned from the Intensification of Coral
Bleaching from 1980-2000 in the Florida Keys, USA.  Edited by Salm, R.V. and
S.L. Coles.  Proceedings of the Workshop on Mitigating Coral Bleaching
Through MPA Design. Bishop Museum, Honolulu, HI. May 29-31, 2001.

John McWilliams wrote:

> Dear coral list
> Can anyone tell me (or suggest a reference) why the first major coral
> bleaching event in the Caribbean was in 1987, whereas the 1982/83 ENSO was
> stronger? Several references state that the 1982/83 episode as being the
> second strongest in the 20th century, after 1997/98.
> Thanks,
> John McWilliams
> School of Biological Sciences
> University of East Anglia
> Norwich
> UK
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Billy D. Causey, Superintendent
Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
PO Box 500368
Marathon, FL 33050
(305) 743-2437 phone
(305) 743-2357 Fax
billy.causey at

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