[Coral-List] FW: Risk of bleaching lessened by storm [cf. coral reefs; Coral Reef Task Force Report] - 29 August Key West Citizen

Precht, Bill Bprecht at pbsj.com
Mon Aug 29 15:43:57 EDT 2005

Partial story with link -


Risk of bleaching lessened by storm

Citizen Staff

This weekend's rainy, windy weather was a downer for most, but good for
at least one Keys inhabitant - the coral reef.

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and Mote Marine Laboratory
officials are on "high alert" and fear a mass coral bleaching event,
said Brian Keller, science coordinator with the sanctuary.

The last mass bleaching event had dire effects on Keys coral. The Keys
saw back-to-back severe bleaching years in 1997 and 1998. Coral cover
has declined more than 35 percent since 1996, much of that attributed to
mass bleaching events.

The recent weeks of windless, flat calm days with warm seas may have
been heaven for divers, but it was hell for coral reefs. Temperature
stress is "continuing to build throughout the Keys reef tract,"
according to the Keys Coral Bleaching Early Warning Network's latest

Hurricane Katrina's passage to the west provided much relief for corals,
with the clouds blocking out the sun and the wind and storm surge mixing
the water and helping to cool it down.

Before the storm, researchers were beginning to see bleaching in soft
corals, fire coral and the lettuce-shaped aegricia corals. Star corals
are looking stressed, Keller said. They are seeing spotty bleaching of
finger corals called porities and some "paling" of hard corals,
including at the popular dive spot Looe Key Reef, said Cory Walter, Mote
Marine Laboratory scientist and Coral Bleaching Early Warning Network
project coordinator.


Published on Monday, August 29, 2005

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