[Coral-List] bleaching in Australia

Hughes, Terry terry.hughes at jcu.edu.au
Tue Mar 22 16:17:15 EDT 2016

Hi Hector,

On the Great Barrier Reef, we have excellent record of bleaching on about 650 reefs that were surveyed from the air by Ray Berkelmans in 1998 and 2002.. Of these, 350 or so were surveyed twice. Yesterday, our National Coral Bleaching Network began to repeat this exercise a third time by scoring 179 reefs along an initial 600km track. By next week we will be able to identify replicate sets of reefs that have bleached zero, 1, 2, or three times.

One of our research questions is whether the extent of bleaching in a population depends on this bleaching history. The latest aerial survey is helping to direct divers to reefs that are now badly bleaching. Severely bleaching reefs are already showing mortality, so repeated in situ surveys are already underway.

Cheers, Terry

Prof. Terry Hughes FAA
Director, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
James Cook University
Townsville, QLD 4811, AUSTRALIA
Fax: 61 (0) 4781-6722
tel: 61 (0)7-4781-4000

On 23 Mar 2016, at 3:12 am, Héctor Reyes Bonilla <hreyes at uabcs.mx<mailto:hreyes at uabcs.mx>> wrote:

hello everyone.  I write this because I read yesterday in a mexican newspaper that corals were all dead in the northern gbr (the journalist thought that all bleached corals are dead already).

I have a simple comment and (positive) word of caution from what we observed all along western mexico (from the gulf of california 25N, to oaxaca 16N).. last year, the enso caused a sst increase of at least 2°C for several months, but conditions are more akin to normal now.

after looking at the predictions, we sincerely believed that bleaching would be intense and mortality would be similar to that observed in 1997. we were right in one thing, wrong in another. bleaching did occur practically in every important reef (from july to november we saw white colonies): alas, field evaluations this spring all over the region shows us that corals resisted very well the event, and mortailty did not exceed 10% in any area that we have surveyed. we believe that this is a clear evidence of adaptation, after the bleaching-caused mortalities of 1997 (see LaJeunesse et al 2010 paper in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B),  but in particular as a result of the more localized but intense sst-induced damages in 2010 and 2012..

in short, it is possible that we are witnessing natural selection at work here, driven by the intense temperature stress. but corals are passing the test!

would something like this will occur in australia?

ps. the observations were made by me, andres lopez, amilcar cupul, pedro medina, arturo ayala, emilio michel, and our students and colleagues.

Hector Reyes

2016-03-19 16:25 GMT-07:00 Hughes, Terry <terry.hughes at jcu.edu.au<mailto:terry.hughes at jcu.edu.au>>:
Dear Coral-List

Unfortunately, the northern section of the Great Barrier Reef is now severely bleached. In preparation for the risk of coral bleaching, we convened the National Coral Bleaching Network last November to plan a coordinated response across Australia's research and reef management community. The ARC Centre has allocated approximately $1million to respond to the 2016 bleaching on the GBR and elsewhere on tropical and sub-tropical reefs around Australia. We're focussing on the GBR, the Coral Sea, coastal and offshore reefs in WA, and sub-tropical reefs on both the east and west coast.

In the next few days, I'll conduct ten aerial transects (3-6 hour flights) throughout the 1000km region between Cairns and PNG that is most severely impacted by bleaching. Thereafter, we plan to expand these surveys to cover elsewhere in the GBR Marine Park south of Cairns. To eliminate observer-bias, the aerial surveys in Queensland will be conducted by myself and James Kerry.

We have relocated JCU's research vessel, the Kirby, from Townsville to Cairns, and it will operate from today in the northern GBR and Torres Strait for the next month. It will be joined shortly by two other vessels from the ARC Centre and the Australian Institute for Marine Science (AIMS). The GBR research stations, on Lizard and Orpheus Island in particular, are also fully engaged in the bleaching event. We are working very closely with the GBR Marine Park Authority and other management agencies in QLD, NSW and WA.

Thankfully, the southern GBR looks to be in the clear.

Members of Taskforce (and associated organisations):

Terry Hughes (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies; James Cook University)
Russ Babcock (CSIRO)
Maria Byrne (University of Sydney)
James Gilmour (AIMS Perth)
Scott Heron (NOAA, Townsville)
Ove Hoegh-Guldberg (ARC Centre, University of Queensland)
Janice Lough (AIMS Townsville)
Ryan Lowe (ARC Centre; University of Western Australia)
John Pandolfi (ARC Centre; University of Queensland)
David Wachenfeld (GBRMPA)
Shaun Wilson (DPaW)
James Kerry (ARC Centre; Project Manager)

Cheers, Terry

Professor Terry Hughes FAA
ARC Laureate Fellow
Director, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811

Link to Terry Hughes Google Scholar profile<http://scholar.google.com.au/citations?user=MhJ2LfsAAAAJ>

Email: terry.hughes at jcu.edu.au<mailto:terry.hughes at jcu.edu.au><mailto:terry..hughes at jcu.edu.au<mailto:terry.hughes at jcu.edu.au>>
Phone: 61 (0)7 4781 4000
Website: http://www.coralcoe.org.au/postdocs/terry-hughes

ABC RN Breakfast: Interview on coral bleaching http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/breakfast/widespread-coral-bleaching-detected-on-the/7212760

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Héctor Reyes Bonilla
Departamento Académico de Biología Marina
Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur
Carretera al sur km 5.5. Col. El Mezquitito
La Paz, B.C.S., C.P. 23080.
Tel. (52-612) 123-8800, ext. 4814
Fax (52-612) 123-8819.

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