Oct 12, 2016

Major Coral Bleaching Event in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary

East Flower Garden Bank
by
National Marine Sanctuaries
Bleaching and paling coral colonies at East Flower Garden Bank on October 5, 2016. Photo: Hickerson, FGBNMS
Bleaching and paling coral colonies at East Flower Garden Bank on October 5, 2016. Photo: Hickerson, FGBNMS

On the heals of the mass mortality event in July 2016, the corals of NOAA's Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary are now faced with a separate major bleaching event. Sanctuary researchers report that almost 50% of the coral colonies in a study site at East Flower Garden Bank were bleached or paling (in the process of bleaching) as of October 5, 2016. Sea surface temperatures have been over 30°C (86°F) for 85 days of the past four months, putting the sanctuary in the midst of one of the worst coral bleaching events on record. While the past week has seen temperatures drop slightly to 29°C (84°F), if these warm water conditions continue, the corals may starve and die.