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Bermuda featured in science magazine

An Australian researcher who recently visited the Island in an effort to study coral bleaching has detailed his experience in New Scientist Magazine.

Manuel González-Rivero, a research fellow at the University of Queensland, was a part of the recent Catlin Seaview Survey, which he said gave researchers a rare opportunity to witness a large-scale coral bleaching event.

He explains in the article that bleaching is brought on by rising water temperatures, which disturb the symbiotic relationship between corals and the algae that gives the coral its colour.

In September, The Department of Conservation Services said warmer than usual water had caused bleaching in fire and brain coral around the Island, particularly in inshore waters.

Mr González-Rivero said researchers were given a tip-off from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that there may be a bleaching event taking place in Bermuda's waters.

“NOAA routinely monitors ocean temperatures, and our colleagues there noticed unusually large and sustained warming early in the season around Bermuda,” he said.

While Mr González-Rivero said a large percentage of the fire corals had experienced bleaching, there was less damage to brain coral and no evidence of bleaching at depths greater than 15 metres.

“The bleaching we are seeing is similar to that seen in other parts of the world. It is extensive yet selective, and a rapid recovery can follow,” he said.

“For Bermuda's reefs, though, recovery is not guaranteed. They lie on the edge of the largely tropical band in which coral communities are viable, and reef diversity here is relatively low, leaving the ecosystem vulnerable.

“There is cause for some optimism. Our readings suggest the area is beginning to experience a seasonal drop in seawater temperature, which may counteract the warm water anomaly and help buy some species time.

“With luck, it is a sign that the peak of this particular bleaching episode has passed, offering these astonishing reefs a window of recovery.”

Useful website: www.newscientist.com

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Published October 21, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated October 20, 2013 at 11:32 pm)

Bermuda featured in science magazine

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