Coral bleaching in PNG

Deborah Gochfeld gochfeld at
Thu Mar 28 22:21:49 EST 1996

I was very interested in John Rewald's report of bleaching in Milne Bay, 
PNG.  I just returned from PNG where I did extensive diving in Milne Bay 
(Dec 1-15), Madang (Dec 15-Feb 15) and southern New Ireland (Feb 20-Mar 
1).  I did not observe an unusual amount of bleading in Milne Bay in 
December, although it sounds as if this event began more recently.  I also 
did not observe an unusual amount of bleaching in Madang, although there  
were a few white corals here and there.  

However, there was an excessive amount of bleaching on the reefs in 
southern New Ireland.  Transects laid at each of 15 sites showed that 
approximately 10-60% of corals in shallow water were bleached.  Bleaching 
on most reefs extended to a depth of 25m.  Most corals were still alive, 
suggesting a very recent event, and the few dead corals were not yet 
covered with algae.  A higher proportion of soft corals were affected, as 
well as a few anemones.  

I would be interested in hearing more details about the Milne Bay 
bleaching event and any other known events in the region.  Does anyone 
know whether any monitoring is being undertaken in Milne Bay or elsewhere 
in the region.  I also think that some periodic monitoring should be 
performed in Madang (and perhaps elsewhere along the north coast of PNG), 
if anyone is over that way, as that area is between the two known affected 
areas.  I last dove in Madang around Feb. 15th and did not observe 
bleaching but it would be interesting to know if or when the bleaching 
event progresses to Madang.  

If anyone has any further information on these or other bleaching events,  
please post it!! 


Deborah Gochfeld 
Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology 
P.O. Box 1346 
Kaneohe, HI 96744 
gochfeld at 

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