LINDY KNOWLES, Senior Science Officer at BNT, surveyed white and pale boulder star coral colonies suffering from the summer 2023mass bleaching event in The Bahamas.
By LYNAIRE MUNNINGS
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Perry Institute for Marine Science and The Bahamas National Trust recently discovered a “coral catastrophe” in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Parks, with reports of the most drastic coral bleaching events in recorded history.
In a press statement yesterday, Perry Institute for Marine Science said the discovery is a testament to the accelerating threat of climate change as scientists have observed up to 100 per cent of coral bleached in certain areas, with resilient reefs showing a concerning 50 per cent bleaching rate.
Lindy Knowles, senior science officer at BNT, called the site of the Shroud Wall depressing.
“The bleached corals were glaringly white, so different than their usual vibrant colours. We immediately could’ve seen the massive amount of bleaching on the reef as soon as we got to the site, before even getting in the water.”
Perry Institute for Marine Science is hoping for immediate relief from the bleaching crisis, saying a drop in ocean temperatures could bring temporary relief.
“Tackling climate change isn't a matter of choice but of survival,” said Will Greene, a scientist at Perry Institute for Marine Science.
"We can’t stop the current bleaching event at a meaningful scale, but we can prevent environmental disasters like this from happening down the line by addressing climate change. In the interim, our focus is on helping the park recover by rebuilding resilient reefs engineered to withstand thermal surges.”
Previous models estimated that global warming could annihilate most coral reefs by 2050, however, the study projects that this reality could manifest earlier than expected.
“Global coral reefs contribute $2.7 trillion annually, so their importance cannot be overstated. They fortify coastlines, bolster fisheries, drive tourism, and form the bedrock of marine ecosystems. With the reefs of The Bahamas alone potentially contributing up to $135m per square kilometre, the ecological and economic implications are profound,” the statement said.