Mass coral bleaching in North Bali!

Coral Reefs of North Bali are experiencing Massive Bleaching Event

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Diving our usual reefs, and seeing most of the coral bleached is truly heartbreaking. Temperatures have been way above average for the last 6 months. And by the end of December, we reached the point of exhaustion. The corals couldn’t cope anymore with it!

Part of our Restored Reef Partially Bleached.

Even the corals that didn’t bleach lost their glow, and all looked dull, a symptom of stress. No one single coral is spared.

First Massive coral bleaching in North Bali since 1998.

Even if we witnessed small bleaching events every year, the last time we witnessed such a large amount of desolation in that area was in 1998. Since then, almost every year we have gotten mild stress with mild bleaching, where all the colonies usually recovered.

What is coral bleaching?

When corals are stressed by changes in conditions such as temperature, light, or nutrients, they expel the symbiotic algae living in their tissues, causing them to turn completely white.

More information here: https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/coral_bleach.html

Recording what species bleached and which didn’t is an important step.

What can you do?

Unfortunately, there are not much that can be done directly, except, doing what you can to reduce climate change to give a chance to corals to adapt.

Recording the colonies that are resistant and did not bleach such as this Acropora valenciennesi with very mild bleaching is the first step. As these need to be conserved from other threats.

You can start by reporting it: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScPVdUm8G8Rc6itXgy64Q1ndHMDBG0P3nH04M04-Bxmd3T79g/viewform

Then at this point, it is important to record what species are affected? and what species will recover? as these species are the resilient ones that have a chance to last the longest on these reefs.

A re-set for conservation:

The most important colonies, can be shaded, or moved to deeper, cooler water, but this can be tricky to do.

This colony of Acropora intermedia in our nursery as a chance of surviving, and could be easily moved to deeper, darker, and cooler waters, until conditions are back to normal. Or we could hope that it will survive and adapt.

Hopefully, some colonies recover and adapt. So there needs to be a clear recording (Photography, Video, written…) of all species that are bleaching, to know which ones have recovered, or which ones didn’t bleach. Which one is resilient? and which one is resistant?. And after the event, focus on these particular species for reef restoration.

The good news:

Finally, temperatures are cooling down! Over the last 3 weeks, temperatures have been going down. We recorded 26-27 C on 26th January 2024. Which is a major difference from the 31-32 C we had from July to December 2024.

An outplanted colony of Acropora intermedia, with very mild bleaching. This is our hope, and this particular colony needs to be protected from other threats!

Hopefully, the temperature will stay cool for long enough. If the temperature rises again soon, most of these corals are doomed.

The massive work will start after the event.

This is when the most important work needs to be done. Once the event has passed, we need to make sure that other threats, such as Disease, Predator infestation, Boat anchoring, Tourist kicks, overfishing, and pollution… are handled properly to save the remaining surviving corals.

Our Main coral reef restoration site is not experiencing bleaching!

That’s the other good news. Our main coral reef restoration site in Ped, Nusa, Penida, Bali, is not experiencing any significant bleaching.

Colonies transplanted 3 years ago in 3 m of water and showing no signs of bleaching!

Our strategy to grow coral fragments in our shallow, warm, and bright lagoon nursery and transplant them into the shallow water of the outer reef is working well.

If you want to support us, please donate here: https://oceangardener.org/donate/

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