Divers urged to report coral bleaching

| 27/08/2018 | 14 Comments
Cayman News Service

Bleached Elkhorn coral (Photo courtesy CCMI)

(CNS): Following the launch of the Coral Watch Programme by the Department of Environment last year to help monitor the impact of bleaching on Cayman’s reefs, the DoE is urging divers and snorkellers to look out for and report any changes to the reef they see over the coming weeks that could suggest a bleaching event. At this time of year sea surface temperatures in the Caribbean begin to exceed coral tolerance, and given the many challenges and threats faced by reefs, learning as much about what is happening to them is an important step in trying to conserve these precious natural resources.

Local researchers have been investigating and assessing how widespread and intense the bleaching is across all three islands, as Cayman has not escaped the damaging impacts of bleaching. Sightings of coral bleaching have been made in Cayman waters up to depths of 50 metres.

However, the DoE cannot be on all of Cayman’s more than 360 reefs all the time, and it is essential that they gather the data, photos and videos they need help from the local dive community. The DoE said it is looking for information such as the locations of reefs affected, the species of coral impacted and the species that are still healthy, as well as the depths of bleaching events.

Coral bleaching is still not fully understood, but between 2014 and 2017 what is believed to be the longest, most widespread, and possibly the most damaging coral bleaching event on record struck the world’s oceans. But with climate change and the rise in ocean temperature, coral bleaching events are expected to continue happening more frequently and have more severe impacts.

Given the wide-ranging threats to coral reefs globally from increasing temperatures, over-fishing and coastal development, the need to document coral health is an important part of the DoE’s work.

Anyone who can help with the Coral Watch Programme is asked to record sightings of coral bleaching through pictures and video, noting the dive site name and location, depth, temperature, date, the percentage of coral impacted and details of the surrounding healthy coral.

The information can be submitted to coralwatch@gov.ky 

Volunteers can also download the Coral Watch Data Sheet from the DoE website.

Tags: , , ,

Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (14)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    When I was snorkelling in the 80’s the reef in North Sound was a continuous healthy forest of elkhorn coral from one side to the other. Some hurricane overturned it all, and that was that pretty much.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I know this is not totally on topic, but I have witnessed a staff member at [a bar by the sea] pour their floor washing bleach water into the ocean, followed by bleaching the deck and hosing off the bleach into the sea. When i confronted the staff member, she asked me with an attitude “where else do you expect me to dump it?” This is an older Canadian lady who has been here for a few years i understand.. and doesn’t care about our waters as I’m sure that she wont be able to retire here and I’m sure she is past child bearing age… so maybe she doesn’t care about our future. Dump it down the drain, down the toilet… anywhere else! Pure laziness and totally unacceptable. not only 3 years ago we used to snorkel there and see clown shrimp and a huge amount of wildlife on these walls. Now it is a dismal sight. Sad really, she didn’t care at all. But i was not going to stand by and watch that without telling her how to be a decent human being.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I was standing at the spot, near The Cracked Conch, where millions of gallons of treated wastewater is being discharded into the sea and wondering what does it do to the marine environment?

    • Anonymous says:

      Not a lot by the look of it. The mini wall by Cracked Conch is actually in very good health. Go for a dive and have a look.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Interesting.

      • Anonymous says:

        You’re diving too far out. Snorkel the water closer to shore and you see a massive amount of algae fertilized by this runoff. On a calm day you can watch the nutrient-rich slick as it heads along the shoreline and then offshore and you’ll notice that the current generally avoids the mini-wall. Jump in at the Cracked Conch and snorkel along the shoreline to the launching ramp and you can see the environment change where the outflow is prevalent.

  4. Anonymous says:

    We are in denial, coral reef is dying for many many years. You need to watch this video by National Geographic (https://youtu.be/mQ10xBl8XMQ) this has been going on for 30 years. We are not going to stop it. the large rich oil companies are not closing. Thats why we need to have a plan “b”. Build the dock!!!!

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    • Anonymous says:

      I remember diving the Brac with Divi Tiara over 20 years ago and there was coral bleaching everywhere. I haven’t been back to dive the island since (Little Cayman is so much better!) and don’t know what it’s like now.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Probably caused by the run-off from too much cement on land, the landfill, an over abundant amount of exhaust fumes or the tunnels on west bay road.

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  6. Ron Ebanks says:

    I wonder if Researchers have done enough research on the same species of coral from different parts of the region, to have more scientific evidence, to say what the reasons are for that specific thing to be happening to that type of coral .

    I know that 60 years ago when I first started snorkeling , I remember seeing patches of staghorn and elkhorn brain coral dead in different parts of the Island , but most of the corals was alive . Bleaching of the corals , and what is causing it ? Do we know any other reason except climate change .

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    • Ron Ebanks says:

      If we look at the photo , do we see that it looks like the elkhorn coral is mostly infected from the side of which that white is attached to look like dead coral.
      Ms. Gena Ebanks , what is that white stuff ? Maybe that is the culprit.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    Why are people pouring bleach on coral tho?

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  8. Anonymous says:

    I would like to report coral bleaching.

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