Scientists said Caribbean corals are being exposed to water temperatures higher than those reported during a record bleaching period five years ago and could start dying in the coming weeks.
The warning comes after islands entered the warmest month of the year for water temperatures, which means the problem is just starting, said C. Mark Eakin, coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Watch network.
“I would love for the forecast to be wrong,” he said. “But the potential for bleaching this year is higher than in 2005.”
When corals are exposed to very warm water, they either expel or consume the colourful algae they host, which leads to the bleached colour.