Wednesday 23 September, 2020

Update: T&T's coral bleaching alert now at Level 2

Photo: iStock photo of beached Acropora coral in shallow water, due to El Nino, Pacific ocean, French Polynesia.

Photo: iStock photo of beached Acropora coral in shallow water, due to El Nino, Pacific ocean, French Polynesia.

Update September 22, 2020, 11.58 am:

High temperatures have led to a Level 2 Alert for coral bleaching in Trinidad and Tobago. 

The Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) shared an update today relaying the alert issued by the US National Oceanic and Atmosperic Administration (NOAA):

 

'Trinidad and Tobago have been upgraded to Coral Bleaching Alert Level 2 for the next four weeks by NOAA.'

'Bleaching Alert Level 2 means that our seas are sustaining above average water temperatures that will put our coral reefs at risk of widespread, severe coral bleaching and mortality. Please report any signs of coral bleaching to the IMA or THA.'

According to the NOAA, a Level 2 Alert means 'Severe Bleaching and Significant Mortality Likely'.

To report marine emergencies to the IMA call 310-0948 or email incidents@ima.gov.tt, or contact the THA’s Department of Marine Resources and Fisheries at 639-4353 or email marinepark08@gmail.com  

What is coral bleaching?

According to the IMA, coral bleaching occurs when corals become stressed due to extremely high or low temperatures. 

The coral then expels the algae with which it lives in a symbiotic relationship. The algae uses sunlight to produce enough energy to supply both themselves and their coral host. In return, the coral provides the algae with a safe haven, stores essential nutrients and removes the algae’s waste.

When corals become stressed, such as when water temperatures are too warm or too cold, the coral-algae relationship breaks down and the algae is expelled from the coral.

This loss causes the coral to turn white, and is therefore referred to as coral bleaching.

The loss of the algae means that the corals lose their major source of food; and if unfavourable conditions persist, the coral will starve and eventually die.

In the last 40 years, coral reefs around the world have suffered from global and regional coral bleaching events, where large sections of reef turned white as summertime sea temperatures became too warm because of global warming.

The IMA said coral reefs of Tobago have also suffered from multiple bleaching events in the past including 2005 and 2010, and these have significantly degraded reef health.

Coral reefs play a critical role in global marine food production - according to the NOAA, about 25 per cent of the ocean's fish depend on healthy coral reefs.

The NOAA said: 'Coral reefs protect coastlines from storms and erosion, provide jobs for local communities, and offer opportunities for recreation. They are also are a source of food and new medicines.'

'Over half a billion people depend on reefs for food, income, and protection. Fishing, diving, and snorkeling on and near reefs add hundreds of millions of dollars to local businesses. The net economic value of the world’s coral reefs is estimated to be nearly tens of billions of US dollars per year. These ecosystems are culturally important to indigenous people around the world.'

 

Original story:

Trinidad and Tobago has been placed on a Coral Bleaching Alert due to high temperatures, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

The Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) said in an update today that the alert was placed due to high temperatures around the country:

‘Can you feel the heat? Due to the increase of our marine waters, the NOAA's Coral Reef Watch Bleaching Alert has placed Trinidad and Tobago under Coral Bleaching Alert Level 1 for the next four weeks. Please report any signs of coral bleaching to the IMA.’

According to the NOAA, the purpose of these Regional Coral Bleaching Heat Stress Gauges is to provide coral reef ecosystem managers with a comprehensive summary of current satellite-monitored and model-projected bleaching thermal stress conditions to help facilitate timely and effective management actions pertaining to mass coral bleaching.

To report marine emergencies to the IMA call 310-0948 or email incidents@ima.gov.tt, or contact the THA’s Department of Marine Resources and Fisheries at 639-4353 or email marinepark08@gmail.com  

 

What is coral bleaching?

According to the IMA, coral bleaching occurs when corals become stressed due to extremely high or low temperatures. 

The coral then expels the algae with which it lives in a symbiotic relationship. The algae uses sunlight to produce enough energy to supply both themselves and their coral host. In return, the coral provides the algae with a safe haven, stores essential nutrients and removes the algae’s waste.

When corals become stressed, such as when water temperatures are too warm or too cold, the coral-algae relationship breaks down and the algae is expelled from the coral.

This loss causes the coral to turn white, and is therefore referred to as coral bleaching.

The loss of the algae means that the corals lose their major source of food; and if unfavourable conditions persist, the coral will starve and eventually die.

In the last 40 years, coral reefs around the world have suffered from global and regional coral bleaching events, where large sections of reef turned white as summertime sea temperatures became too warm because of global warming.

The IMA said coral reefs of Tobago have also suffered from multiple bleaching events in the past including 2005 and 2010, and these have significantly degraded reef health.

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