A devastating coral bleaching episode is predicted to occur in the Coral Sea between now and February. If the bleaching has the effects that NOAA is predicting, marine life in the surrounding areas will be severely damaged.
Reports from NOAA say that the bleaching will occur in parts of the Coral Sea, adjacent to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and the Coral Triangle. This 5.4 million square kilometer area is considered to be the center of marine life. The Coral Triangle stretches from the Philippines to Malaysia and Papua New Guinea and is home to 75% of all known species of coral.
Richard Leck, Climate Change Strategy leader for World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Coral Triangle Program, says “this forecast bleaching episode will be caused by increased water temperatures and is the kind of event we can expect on a regular basis if average global temperatures rise above [more than] 2 degrees.”
Not only would this bleaching episode devastate coral populations and the surrounding marine life, but it would also have serious impacts on the local Australian communities who depend on the reefs for their livelihoods. More than 120 million people rely on the Coral Triangle alone.
Just last week the Australian Government announced a 2020 target for reducing greenhouse gas pollution by 5%. WWF say this is completely inadequate and reductions of at least 25% are necessary by 2020. WWF is urging the Australian government to declare the Coral Sea a marine protected area.
Copyright © 2009 by Marine Science Today, a publication of OceanLines LLC