Oahu Coral Reef Suffers Massive Serious Bleaching Due to ‘Stress’

Wide portions of windward Oahu’s coral reef are suffering from serious bleaching due to “stress,” scientists reportedly said on Friday.

The higher-than-normal ocean temperature is said to have mainly caused the near-shore bleaching across the islands of Hawaii, as warm waters draw out algae from stressed corals. With the algae gone, the coral starves, turns white and eventually dies.

According to officials at Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources, parts of Kauai, Maui, the Big Island and Honolulu’s coral reefs are also experiencing the same phenomenon, but Oahu is suffering more severe bleaching, The Garden Island has learned.

Around 75 percent of the dominant coral species surveyed at Kaneohe Bay off Oahu, has reportedly turned entirely white or lose color.

The current bleaching incident is said to have been labelled by marine specialist Anne Rosinski as “more severe” than the last one that took place in Hawaii in 1996.

“It is fairly common to see some level of bleaching around this time of year,” Rosinski said, Aiken Standard reported. She also explained that the peak season is August to September, but “this is way above average from what we would expect.”

This year’s September was the second-hottest recorded since the 1940s, with scientists noting recent underwater temperature as high as 86 degrees – and with a maximum normal temperature of 83 degrees.

Warm temperature is said to be just among the stress factors that corals are already dealing with. Other stressors reportedly include sediment in the water, pollution and invasive algae.

The stressors reportedly do not immediately kill all corals as the more resilient ones are likely to recover back. However, scientists said people should do their part in preserving corals and help them respond better to stress so they don’t bleach and die.

“The corals are animals, right, they’re not rocks,” Kim Hum, Hawaii Director of Marine Programs for The Nature Conservancy, said. “So what bleaching is, it’s a sign of distress.”

Coral Reefs not only serve as habitat for fish, shrimps and other sea creatures, they also play a role in tourism as tourists often snorkel and dive to witness them and the fish that inhabits among its structures.


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