Australian scientists have discovered what’s possibly the most unusual coral bleached reef on record.
The bleaching is occurring in a shallow zone off the coast of Western Australia, about 1,300 kilometres north of Perth.
The researchers say the bleaching was caused by high levels of CO2.
It’s rare for the coral to bleach due to CO2 pollution, said Dr. Michael Ainsworth, a coral reef expert from the Australian National University.
But in the case of this bleaching, the amount of CO 2 was so high that it was acting as a sort of “bloc-bloc” effect, which is the key to why it was happening.
“The bleached corals have had a very high CO2 concentration in the water for a long time, and it’s been in the reef for a very long time,” he told Al Jazeera.
“When CO2 levels are high, you get these bleaching events and when they’re high, the corals start to bleach, and that’s when you start to see some corals die off.”
So this is really unusual.
“He said the scientists’ finding may shed light on why the coralline algae, which thrives in acidic waters, can turn white.”
This could be because it’s in the ocean and the coral is in an acidic environment and then the pH changes, and so the coralls turn white, which means they’re dead,” he said.”
Or it could be that these corals are dying because they’re in very poor conditions.
“The bleaches occur over a period of three weeks, and have been recorded in the Western Australian region.
Dr. Ainswell said the bleached coral reefs are not necessarily a sign of the end of the coral bleach cycle.”
If it’s going to happen, then it will happen and it will probably continue for some time,” Dr Ainsway said.
The scientists’ findings were published in the journal Coral Reefs International.