[Coral-List] Hawaii Coral Bleaching (Steve Coles)

Rob Hilliard, imco rhilliard at imco.com.au
Fri Oct 2 08:22:42 EDT 2015

Hi Steve
 From the unprecedented extensions to the bleaching areas you're seeing 
this year, it will be interesting to see if the aftermath, in the areas 
of highest mortality, leads to any temporary (or potentially permanent) 
expansion of local invasives, i.e. into the 'normally' more resistant, 
open coastal...   I'm assuming that connections to the programs that 
keep tabs on the problem algae etc remain strong at Bishop!
Cheers,  Rob


Robert Hilliard PhD Pg.DIp(EMS)

InterMarine Consulting Pty Ltd

Darlington, Western Australia

+61 427 855 485

*rhilliard at imco.com.au <mailto:rhilliard at imco.com.au>*

*P**lease consider our environment before printing this e-mail*

On 01-Oct-15 6:00 PM, coral-list-request at coral.aoml.noaa.gov wrote:

Today's Topics:
3. Hawaii Coral Bleaching (Steve Coles)

Message: 3
Date: Thu, 1 Oct 2015 03:29:19 -1000
From: Steve Coles<slcoles at bishopmuseum.org>
Subject: [Coral-List] Hawaii Coral Bleaching
To: James Hendee<jim.hendee at noaa.gov>,"coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov"
Cc:"jokiel at hawaii.edu"  <jokiel at hawaii.edu>
Message-ID:<C0A38FDA62F06440873649E41321B739011DC986E7D1 at ex1.corp.bishopmuseum.org>

Dear Jim et al.

I have filed a Coral Bleaching Report with ReefBase and NOAA's Bleaching Watch concerning unprecedented bleaching that has occurred in the area of Kahe Point, West O'ahu, where I have done coral monitoring annually since 1981 and I have frequented during summer and fall months since 1973. Given the interest in bleaching during this El Nino year and the possibility that extensive bleaching may occur throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans in the coming months, I thought the members of the list might be interested in seeing the observations that I included with the report. Bleaching is also happening for the second year in a row in Kane'ohe Bay and Lanikai in Kailua on the windward side of Oahu where it is being monitored by Paul Jokiel and Cindy Hunter, but this is the first time that it has occurred on the open coast of O'ahu or, to my knowledge, elsewhere in Hawai'i.

Photos and additional details are available from me on request.

Steve Coles


I have had an annual monitoring program in the Kahe Point- N?n?kuli area since 1981 where I have photographed the coral cover on 40 0.66 sq.m quadrats at four sites, and I was making weekly visits to the area from 1973 to 1985. Details about the area and changes in coral cover at the sites from 1981 to 2005 are described in *Coles and Brown (2007). This year is the first time in 42 years that I have observed coral bleaching in this area, and the bleaching I observed on September 23 was extensive, occurring to 5 m depth from N?n?kuli to south of Kahe near the Ko Olina harbor channel entrance and probably beyond. Pocillopora meandrina was the species showing the most bleaching followed by massive Porites lobata and P. evermanni (lutea). Not all corals were affected at the time of the observations, but many were bleached to the point that recovery is not likely, especially for P. meandrina.

This bleaching event followed an unprecedented period of high temperatures and humidity, low cloud cover and calm winds that had affected Hawaii since June and have only recently moderated. Further bleaching will be determined by whether hot weather conditions return and persist. This is the first major bleaching event reported along this open coastline. Extensive coral bleaching occurred in K?ne?ohe Bay in 1996 and last year in 2014 as well as off Lanikai in Kailua Bay in 2014. Again, it is unprecedented to have major bleaching anywhere in sequential years in Hawai?i.

Future monitoring and observations will determine whether the present coral bleaching in Hawai?i will result in substantial mortality or whether the corals remaining will develop more resistant varieties. Repeated occurrences of such thermal stress events in the future may severely challenge the viability of corals and the limited reef development that exists in Hawaiian waters.

*Coles, S. L and Brown, E. K. 2007.Twenty-five years of change in coral coverage on a hurricane impacted reef in Hawai?i: the importance of recruitment. Coral Reefs 26:705-717.

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