[Coral-List] Recent Coral Bleaching in Western Australia

James Gilmour j.gilmour at aims.gov.au
Fri Jun 17 03:20:59 EDT 2016

Coral bleaching in Western Australian

We now have a reasonable idea of the severity and extent of the recent coral bleaching in Western Australia. Estimates in some regions are based on limited replication and/or need to be confirmed with post-bleaching surveys of mortality. This summary is based on data provided by many researchers and institutions, most of which are listed below.

Bleaching commenced in late March 2016 and continued through April. Impacts were as expected, based on the NOAA temperature predictions and the history of severe bleaching during extreme El Nino conditions in 1998. Only the northern reefs were affected; mainly the offshore and inshore reefs of the Kimberley region. Reefs in the Pilbara, Ningaloo, or further south were not affected. Variation in bleaching among the reefs was similar to that in 1998, but in 2016 the inshore reefs of the Kimberley bleached. Bleaching was most severe (>60%) at Christmas Island, Scott and Seringapatam Reefs, and widespread (30-60%) at the inshore Kimberley reefs. Low levels (<10%) of bleaching were observed at several other reefs and submerged shoals in the region.

The frequency of bleaching on Western Australian reefs has increased in recent years. In 1998, severe bleaching was recorded at Christmas Island, Scott and Seringapatam Reefs, with little subsequent bleaching until 2010. Between 2010 and 2016, several Western Australian reefs have bleached more than once. The most severe and widespread bleaching of the southern reefs, including those at Ningaloo and the Abrolhos Islands, occurred during the 'Marine Heatwave' and La Nina conditions in 2011. Having seen the damage from the recent El Nino, we will be planning for the coming La Nina conditions.

James Gilmour
James Gilmour, Kylie Cook, Taryn Foster, Ben Radford, Andrew Heyward (AIMS); Shaun Wilson, Andy Halford, Ali McCarthy (DPaW); Damien Thomson, Russ Babcock (CSIRO), Malcolm McCulloch, Verena Schoepf (UWA/CoE), JP Hobbs, (Curtin University), Scott Evans (DoF), James Brown (KMRS) and Dan Oades (Bardi Jawi Rangers).

James Gilmour
Australian Institute of Marine Science
Oceans Institute UWA (MO96)
35 Stirling Hwy, Crawley, W.A. 6009

The information contained within this transmission is for the
use of the intended recipient only and may contain confidential
and/or legally privileged material and/or material the subject
of copyright and/or personal information and/or sensitive
information that is subject to the Privacy Act 1988. Any review,
re-transmission, disclosure, dissemination or other use of, or
taking of any action in reliance upon, this information by
persons or entities other than the intended recipient is
prohibited. If you have received this email in error please
notify the AIMS Privacy Officer on (07) 4753 4444 and delete
all copies of this transmission together with any attachments.

More information about the Coral-List mailing list