Status of Caribbean Coral Reefs after Bleaching and Hurricanes in 2005


Abstract The GCRMN and partners, NOAA, ReefBase and Reef Check recently released 'Status of Caribbean Coral Reefs after Bleaching and Hurricanes in 2005'. This report continues the GCRMN Status Report series by documenting the devastating effects that the hottest summer and the most active hurricane season ever recorded in the Northern Hemisphere had on the coral reefs of the Caribbean and Atlantic Basins. Based around the NOAA HotSpot satellite images, experts from the region describe the development and persistence of abnormally high sea temperatures that caused coral bleaching throughout the Caribbean and severe coral mortality as a result of bleaching or subsequent infections by disease. In some places, particularly around the islands of the Lesser Antilles, coral cover has declined by 50% and populations of key reef-building species by 73%. Many corals were still bleached into 2006 and in a few places they were still bleached in 2007 or were succumbing to disease. The report predicts that coral bleaching will be occur more frequently by 2030 and is likely to be an annual event by 2100, and acknowledges that atmospheric CO2 concentrations must be maintained below double the pre-industrial levels if coral reefs are going to survive in something resembling their current form. This Caribbean bleaching report includes chapters describing coral bleaching, the potential effects of ocean acidification, how hurricanes form and what actions coral reef managers can take when coral bleaching strikes. The report presents contributions from more than 80 coral reef scientists and managers and is another GCRMN contribution to the International Coral Reef Initiative and the International Year of the Reef.

Release Year: 
Caribbean_Status_Report_2005.pdf4.05 MB