[Coral-List] GCBE3 -- potential biodiversity disaster

James Hendee jim.hendee at noaa.gov
Thu Sep 24 08:13:34 EDT 2015

Greetings, Coral-Listers,

    I think it would benefit a great many of us if incidences of coral
bleaching are reported to the List, and/or that anybody tracking the
incidences also post their results to the list.  This not only helps
those involved in bleach forecasting, but helps environmental managers
and policy makers know the global extent and how their regions fit into
the global picture.

    ALSO, I think it is important that people who are expecting
bleaching at their locations, due to historical bleaching incidences,
current bleaching forecasts, or due to incidences of physical factors
usually being conducive to bleaching, report incidences of *NO*
bleaching.  This helps to improve the bleaching ecoforecasts, and might
provide an indication of a more resilient region or area (worth
researching in the future).  It's also important to record or report as
much as you can on the values of environmental parameters as you can,
e.g., not only sea temperature, but if possible light (or "sunny" or
"cloudy"), currents, turbidity, winds (e.g., "doldrums" or "stormy" if
no actual wind speeds), salinity, etc. 

    Finally, if you are in a position to see the progress of a bleaching
event from no bleaching to mass bleaching, knowing which species bleach
first, and at what sea temperature (and other parameters, if possible)
may be useful in the future for MPA planning.  If you find that corals
near mangroves or seagrasses are not bleaching, while other areas are,
that's an important piece of information for MPA planning.  Any
follow-up records on changes to the ecosystems are extremely valuable
(e.g., invasion of particular species, mass migration of species out of
the area, epizootics, etc.).  If you can record the event in
photographs, that will be very helpful in the future, too.


On 9/23/15 9:00 PM, Gregor Hodgson wrote:
> The 3rd Global Coral Bleaching (GCBE3) event since 1997 is underway. It
> started slowly in 2014 and will last through 2016 -- 3 years. It has already
> bleached and killed large areas of coral reef in several parts of the world,
> including Hawaii, American Samoa and Florida. Based on NOAA¹s Coral Watch
> Program the long range predictions (only released this week) are grim and
> this could be the worst event in history for parts of the IndoPacific.
> http://coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/satellite/bleachingoutlook_cfs/weekly_webpage
> /extended_outlook_60.php
> Parts of the Caribbean, Persian Gulf, S China and southern Baja Calif are
> bleaching (or are predicted to be) now and the Carib will experience peak
> bleaching in October/November. During early to mid- 2016, parts of Australia
> and the E Indonesia will be threatened with some of the hottest water in
> history. The GBR is threatened. Because the NOAA predictions are often
> underestimates, it is possible that in a worst case scenario as much as 25%
> of the remaining reefs in the world could be lost over the next 12 months.
> The degree and extent of the damage could affect food security and economies
> of many developing countries; Small Island Developing States are
> particularly vulnerable. The immediate damage to tourism and fisheries could
> run into billions of dollars and could affect hundreds of millions of
> people.
> At minimum, there is an urgent need to improve field tracking of GCBE3 and
> quickly deploy more teams and more frequently to measure the actual damage
> to the reefs so that the NOAA models can be better calibrated and by the end
> of 2016, we know what we have lost.
> I organized a meeting in Washington DC on September 9, 2015,  to bring
> together senior staff from international NGOs,  governments and funding
> agencies to present the NOAA evidence with Mark Eakin and to ask them to
> form a Coral Reef Coalition to oversee the emergency response to GCBE3. The
> group agreed to work together on the following goals:
> 1)   Promote the immediate use of GCBE3 to raise the profile of coral reef
> damage as a lever in the COP21 climate change negotiations.
> 2)  Provide funding to volunteer field teams to cover partial survey costs
> to better track impacts.
> 3)  Urgent/important to track management success or failure globally because
> resilience-based protections may be ineffectual in the face of GCBE3 (and
> the nextŠ).
> 4)  High priority to track coral/algal adaptation trajectory globally so
> that we know where adaptation is helping to protect corals.
> 6)  Increase PR on coral reef loss via multilingual social media, streaming
> TV.
> 7)  Create an X-prize approach to test solutions to bleaching.
> We need help to get as much information as possible on this event. Help NOAA
> to  better calibrate the models using Reef Check or other methods and send
> us the data which will be shared with the Coalition partners.
> We would like to ask interested regional labs to contact Elena Johannsen
> <ejohannsen at reefcheck.org> if they would be interested to help with the
> genetic testing of zoox.
> Reef Check is a global marine conservation organization that has trained
> field teams to monitor coral reefs in 90 countries/territories using a
> standard method for 19 years.The data are available at:
> http://data.reefcheck.us/
> Gregor Hodgson, PhD
> Executive Director
> Reef Check Foundation
> 13723 Fiji Way, Suite B2
> Marina Del Rey CA 90292 USA
> T: +1 310-305-1081
> www.reefcheck.org
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

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