Daily 5-km satellite coral bleaching thermal stress monitoring for the Pacific Ocean, 13 November 2016. Graphic: Coral Reef Watch / NOAA

By Michael Slezak
22 September 2016

(The Guardian) – The worst global bleaching event on record could simply be the new normal, according to one of the foremost experts on coral reefs and their response to warming oceans.

Mark Eakin, head of the Coral Reef Watch program at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has told the Guardian he was hopeful the current global bleaching event would end in 2017, but said it was possible it would just roll on, alternating between the northern and southern hemispheres as the seasons changed.

Some of the most recent reefs to be hit by the unprecedented event are those around the Japanese islands of Okinawa.

Eakin said he had received preliminary reports that some reefs around the Japanese islands of Okinawa had 90% of their coral bleached, and about 10% of it had died so far.

“What I’d heard was that this is the worst since 1998,” Eakin said.

Striking new images reveal the impact unusually warm oceans are having on coral reefs around Okinawa in Japan have been shared exclusively with the Guardian. [more]

Global coral bleaching event might become new normal, expert warns

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