Widespread coral bleaching predicted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration earlier this year “did impact reefs across Hawaii,” says the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, beginning with warm ocean temperatures in the summer that extended into the fall.
But it was not as bad as forecast, yet widespread nonetheless.
Teams from the DLNR Division of Aquatic Resources, NOAA, The Nature Conservancy, the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology and the Arizona State University Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science conducted rapid assessments of coral health along coral reef tracts throughout the state over the past few months.
“Conditions for corals are now improving with sea surface temperatures beginning to drop,” said Gerry Davis with NOAA Marine Fisheries, in a press release Tuesday.
Davis added: “While bleaching this year was not as devastating as the events seen across the Hawaiian Islands in 2014 and 2015, the DAR surveys, along with NOAA observations and reports from ocean users to the Hawaii Coral Bleaching Tracker, show there still was substantial bleaching found on all islands.”
As much as half of live coral bleached in the most heavily affected areas, said DLNR. Cauliflower and rice corals were most impacted.