Bleaching in PR

Ernesto Weil eweil at
Fri Sep 24 17:04:55 EDT 1999

Dear colleagues, these are my most recent observations on bleaching here in south west Puerto Rico after surveying 8 reef localities including one 5 miles offshore on the edge of the platform. 

With the exception of M. alcicornis, very few (less than 3 %) colonies of all the different species have bleaching symptoms in all these reef localities. Thus so far, the event is just starting or is very mild. Couple of things this year vary from last year: 

1- Some species that rarely or never bleach or bleach late were the first ones to show bleaching signs this year (i.e. S. cubensis, E. fastigiata, M. cavernosa, M. memorialis, L. cucullata.). Other species showing bleaching signs include: P.astreoides, M.faveolata, S. intersepta, P.porites, P.furcata, C. natans, A. humilis, A. purpurea, D. labyrinthiformis, M. alcicornis, M.complanata, M. squarrosa, M. franksi and Palythoa caribbaeorum. Last year and in 1996, after hurricane Hortense, Palythoa was the first one to pale out and bleach followed by P.astreoides, P. porites, S. intersepta, C. natans, M. franksi and M. faveolata. 

2- There was a period of warm water back in May-June where water temperatures rose above 29 ºC, and stayed there for over two weeks from the surface down to 15 m. Temperatures went down around (below 29 degrees) around June 15 and started to climb up again by the end of July. Temp. reached  the maximum registered in June by August 15. Water temperatures are now above that maximum. No bleaching was observed between June and September. This data was collected with StowAway temp loggers. 

3. We have not been hit by a hurricane yet.

Saludos, EW.

Dr. Ernesto Weil
Depart. of Marine Sciences, UPR
PO BOX 908 Lajas PR 00667
Ph. (787) 899-2048 x. 241
FAX (787) 899-2630/899-5500.
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