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Hawaiian coral reefs showing positive signs following mass bleaching

Date: 19-Feb-19
Author: Liam Taylor

Hawaii was struck by severe ocean temperatures in 2015, causing a mass bleaching event. Image: Unsplash © Unsplash

Hawaii was struck by severe ocean temperatures in 2015, causing a mass bleaching event. Image: Unsplash

Almost four years after the worst coral bleaching event ever recorded in Hawaii the state’s coral reefs are finally showing signs of growth and stabilisation.

Ocean water temperatures around Hawaii’s popular Big Island island skyrocketed in 2015, resulting in 60% of corals in the area experiencing bleaching. Some areas were so badly affected they experienced in excess of 90 percent mortality and many experts were concerned the reefs might never recover.

Over the last three years, surveys were conducted by The Nature Conservancy on over 14,000 coral at 20 sites along the West Hawaiian coastline in order to document the bleaching and determine how and why some areas were more resilient than others.

The scientists were thrilled to see that many of the area’s reefs had begun to stabilize during 2018, especially those with limited shoreline access and human exposure. These results could hold insights into how to encourage reef recovery in other areas affected by coral bleaching, such as the Great Barrier Reef.

“Interestingly, the number of stressors affecting an area, not the severity of a single one, was the most important factor,” Kim Hum, TNC’s marine program director, told West Hawaii Today.

“Reefs that are fighting the impacts of several stressors are more susceptible to temperature stress, making them more likely to bleach and less able to recover if they do.”


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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.


Liam                                              Taylor
Author: Liam Taylor

Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia. Joining the communications team at Planet Ark, he hopes to inspire positive environmental behaviour through effective and positive messaging.

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