In bad news for global corals, NOAA has reported that we are in the midst of a third major global coral bleaching event resulting from temperature stress. Estimates suggest that by the end of 2015, almost 95% of corals in US waters will have been exposed to conditions that can cause them to bleach.
In 2005, the U.S. lost half of our Caribbean coral reefs to a major bleaching event as the result of warming seas. While coral can survive bleaching if the conditions that led to the loss of symbiotic algae (called zooxanthellae) don't last that long, predictions suggest that the current bleaching event will continue into 2016 and so is likely to substantially impact reefs around the world. Corals are one of the marine species we know will be harmed most severely by climate change, as the temperature and chemical composition of the ocean changes.
If you'd like to learn more about coral bleaching, there's additional information from NOAA here. You can also read the press release about the current bleaching event here, and if you are a recreational diver, you can help NOAA track bleaching (or the absence of bleaching) by contributing data through the Coral Reef Watch program.
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