[Coral-List] Bleaching in Fiji

Mark Eakin mark.eakin at noaa.gov
Wed Apr 15 10:32:57 EDT 2015

Extracting this topic from the current polemic on the 2012 article in The Australian, the bleaching in the South Pacific has been particularly severe this year and is part of Pacific bleaching that continued in mid-2014 and is likely to continue through much of 2015. The observations Walt provided on Fiji show just one of many areas where we have had reports of bleaching since the start of 2015. This is consistent with the warming seen in our new 5-km coral bleaching products such as the time series you can see in this link for Fiji and other parts of Melanesia: http://coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/vs/timeseries/melanesia.php#fiji <http://coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/vs/timeseries/melanesia.php#fiji>

The last few months have seen high thermal stress and bleaching in the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Fiji, and the Samoas. However, the bleaching reports from many of these locations have been mixed. In part, this probably results from the geographic variation in the degree of heating being experienced across these wide archipelagos.

At this point, temperatures normally cool down as the sun treks northward. Our 5-km regional virtual station and 4-month bleaching outlook both show this pattern that should bring relief to the corals of Fiji (http://coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/vs/gauges/fiji.php <http://coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/vs/gauges/fiji.php>) and surrounding islands (http://coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/vs/map.php <http://coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/vs/map.php>). However, just because the thermal stress has subsided as the water cools, it does not mean the impact on the corals is over. It is likely to take some time for the corals to recover and many may die from the bleaching or subsequent disease.

Walt: I’m thrilled that your team is continuing to observe the corals through this event. In water observations of bleaching, mortality, and recovery are critical to testing and improving our satellite products, as well as for evaluating which reefs may be more resilient to high thermal stress like that seen this year. Please keep track of the date, exact location, and amount of bleaching &/or mortality as a minimum. As always, please send all bleaching observations to coralreefwatch at noaa.gov <mailto:coralreefwatch at noaa.gov> and/or the NOAA/ReefBase collaborative online bleaching report form: http://www.reefbase.org/contribute/bleachingreport.aspx <http://www.reefbase.org/contribute/bleachingreport.aspx>. Your bleaching observations (including observations of no bleaching) are greatly appreciated. Should you have any questions or feedback on our Coral Reef Watch products, please send an e-mail to coralreefwatch at noaa.gov <mailto:coralreefwatch at noaa.gov>.


C. Mark Eakin, Ph.D.
Coordinator, NOAA Coral Reef Watch
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Center for Satellite Applications and Research
Satellite Oceanography & Climate Division
e-mail: mark.eakin at noaa.gov
url: coralreefwatch.noaa.gov

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"A world without coral reefs is unimaginable." 
NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco, March 25 2010

> On Apr 8, 2015, at 4:55 PM, Walt Smith <walt at waltsmith.com> wrote:
> Hi All,
> Eugene has put across an interesting paper but there could be plenty of room
> to doubt.
> I would like to point out an interesting conflict regarding the recent noaa
> charts that are being distributed.
> http://coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/vs/map.php
> This chart clearly shows that Fiji is in the "clear" however, it make me
> wonder where this information comes from.
> Our team is on the reef every day and cover a good part of the two main
> islands and I can tell you first hand that the bleaching is devastating and
> possibly the worst year yet. More than 80% of what we see is bleached and
> even the soft corals are effected severely. In some spots it is very close
> to 100% devastated and our coral farms with over 90,000 newly planted corals
> are all (100%) lost. 
> We are in the process of putting a video together to post on you tube and
> when we do I will publish the link here.
> Walt Smith
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