Environment Magazine

Only 1% of Japan’s Largest Coral Reef is Healthy After Historic Bleaching Disaster

Posted on the 24 May 2018 by Rinkesh @ThinkDevGrow

Due to the recent effects of climate change on marine biodiversity, a report by the Japanese government have stated that only 1% of the coral in the country’s largest coral reef is advantageous. This report was stated by AFP on the 18th of May, 2018.

Furthermore, it is necessary to know that this reef is situated in the Sekisei Lagoon near Okinawa, in Japan. But it is said that it has deteriorated due to the accumulations of coral bleaching activities as a result of the increased temperatures of the sea.

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Nevertheless, Japan’s Environment Ministry Official, Chihiro Kondo, told AFP that, “if coral reefs do not recover, it means a loss of rich fauna for a variety of creatures and would have a grave impact on the ecosystem in the region, which would be detrimental.”

Even though coral reefs only occupies about 1% in the ocean, they are a natural habitat for most marine organisms, according to AFP. Also, the reef is also a side attraction for tourism and an essentiality for fishing.

“A high climate effect on the coral reefs will impose detrimental effects on the economy and social life on a long-run.” This was said by James Reimer, a professor from the University of Ryukyus in Okinawa to Huffington Post in an article about the bleaching occurrence in 2016.

However, lots of information analyses were carried out by Japan’s Environmental Ministry and satellite images from 1,000 monitoring sites in a lagoon of about 67.89 square kilometers, and it was discovered that only 1.4% of the coral in the lagoon was healthy.

Analyses from coral reefs in Lagoons near Ishigaki and Iriomote islets by the Environmental Ministry of Japan proved similar results. It is also important to know that this was the first thorough survey on the reef since 2008 at which only 0.8% was recorded at that time as being healthy. In 1991, 14.6% of the coral reef healthy.

Due to the recent survey, it is seen that these corals haven’t convalesced since 2008, probably due to the historic bleaching disaster in 2016.” This was according to a statement to AFP by Kondo.

Furthermore, it is also essential to know that the 2016 historic bleaching disaster was the biggest disaster to have ever occurred on coral reefs, the Huffington Post reported. A study made in December 2016, discovered that 70% of the coral reefs had perished and about 90% had bleached after there was an increase in the ocean temperature.

Researchers have made it known that it takes ten to twenty years for corals to recover from bleaching events and hundreds of years for bigger species of these corals.

In contrast, we have now had three severe bleaching events causing mass coral mortality in the Ryukyu Islands since 1998. With the oceans warming as rapidly as they are, I doubt there will be a next time for them to recover before the next bleaching event that may take place,” this was a statement made by, Mark Eakin, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) coral reef watch coordinator, to the Huffington Post.

Generally, it has been discovered that about 80% of the reef’s volume has been lost since 1890 and this is partly due to the increase in the temperature of the oceans and coral-eating starfishes, AFP made this known.

On the other hand, the bleaching of coral reefs do not only occur in Japan oceans and lagoons alone but however, there have been several reported cases of the bleaching of coral reefs. With this in mind, scientists are now worried about how long these reefs can recover before another bleaching event occurs again.

Mark Eakin, told the Guardian last year that he hopes the current bleaching occurrences stop in 2017, but has also said that there is a high possibility that these occurrences might roll-in again, thus, switching between the northern and southern hemispheres as there are changes in the seasons.

However, corals begin to bleach when they come in contact with water with rising temperature. Unless the water comes down to its normal temperature at a fast pace, these corals will begin to deteriorate.

Occasionally, when corals are frazzled, it increasingly expresses some of its color pigments in an absurd manner, thus, glowing in infrequent rich colors, which is referred to as “fluorescing.”

Due to these occurrences, Eakin stated: “I expect to see some bleaching every year from now on. The question is, does it continue to look like a global event, or is it just places here or places there?”

At some point, we’re probably going to hit that level of global warming where it doesn’t go away and it’s continuous. The climate models have been saying for well over a decade that we’re looking to sometime around in the 2020s where global bleaching becomes a norm.

More than 94% of the reefs surveyed in Great Barrier Reef are in danger due to the historic occurrence in 2016 and the NOAA have warned earlier in 2011 that worldwide coral reefs could go extinct as a result of climate change.


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