[Coral-List] Bleaching in NE Papua New Guinea

Timothy.Skewes at csiro.au Timothy.Skewes at csiro.au
Thu Mar 16 07:34:17 EST 2006

During 15-21 February 2006, CSIRO scientists carried out a survey of the
shallow reefs of the Lihir Island group in the north east PNG (3 deg 10
min S, 152 deg 35 min E).  Primarily the trip was to carry out UVC
surveys of reef fish and collect data on reef habitats.  The Lihir
Islands are high volcanic islands rising steeply from >2000m depth. They
are quite small (the largest, Niolam, is about 16 km in diameter) and
they all have narrow fringing reefs. 

Before the trip we checked the NOAA SST hot spot charts and noticed
there was a persistent hotspot over north-eastern PNG, including the
Lihir Islands.  Sure enough, when we arrived we found that a significant
proportion of the live coral on the shallow fringing reefs was bleached.
Some corals had already died from the event, and others may have been
lightly affected or were recovering (pale state). 

Initial estimates are that about a quarter to a third of all live corals
were bleached, and a smaller proportion had already died. Data was
collected that will provide a better estimate of overall bleaching,
including more detail on the spatial distribution and growth forms
affected.  The team also collected high resolution photographs of fixed
sites to enable us to assess the bleaching impact in more detail and
also to assess the demise or recovery of corals post bleaching event.

At this stage, we propose to revisit the fixed sites in April 2006
to investigate the mortality or recovery rates of bleached corals and to
establish a framework for assessing the long term effects of coral
bleaching on the ecology of this tropical reef system.
Timothy Skewes, Fisheries ecologist,
CSIRO Division of Marine and Atmospheric Research 
PO Box 120, Cleveland, Q 4163, Australia 
e-mail: timothy.skewes at csiro.au 
Phone : (+63) 7 3826 7249 Fax : (+63) 7 3826 7222


More information about the Coral-List mailing list