CIMH warns that Caribbean reefs are under bleaching watch
(Photo: AFP)

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, (CMC) – The Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) warned on Monday that with the increase temperatures in the Caribbean, the region’s reefs are currently under bleaching watch or warning conditions.

The Barbados-based entity, in its latest issue of the Caribbean Coral Reef Watch, indicated that the outlook for the coming months is not promising for the Caribbean’s reefs as widespread bleaching conditions are expected.

CIMH also said that parts of Florida, Northern Bahamas, and Trinidad and Tobago have been experiencing Alert Level 1 conditions and that waters in the region continue to warm in the following months.

“The bleaching alert and outlook for the Caribbean indicates that extensive areas of the region will be under Alert Level 1 during October and November, persisting into December in some areas,” CIMH said.

“Bleaching may be expected throughout the region,” CIMH added.

Meanwhile, coral bleaching can be triggered and sustained under various environmental stresses.

Increases in warming ocean temperatures stress tropical corals; the hotter water temperatures become, the more stress corals experience.

When coral bleaches, it does not die, however, it becomes more susceptible to damage from other stressors, including disease outbreaks.

But in some instances, corals that are partially to totally bleached for long periods of time eventually die, causing dramatic long-term ecological and socio-economic impacts. These include loss of reef-building corals, and changes in benthic habitat and in fish populations on the reef.

Experts warn that even under favourable conditions, it can take decades for severely bleached reefs to fully recover.

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