Rising sea temperature associated with global warming and climate change is being blamed for causing widespread coral bleaching in the Pacific.
An El Niño pattern that has been developing in the Pacific in recent months is stressing coral reefs as ocean temperature continues to rise.
Karl Fellenius, order a Marshall Islands-based marine scientist with the University of Hawaii told AFP, ailment “The worst coral bleaching event ever recorded for the Marshall Islands has been occurring since mid-September.”
Other than the Marshall Islands, Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, the northwestern Hawaiian Islands and Kiribati are each experiencing major bleaching events.
Fellenius further explains that coral bleaching was a naturally occurring phenomenon but not on the scale currently being seen. He says coral bleaching has become a global problem due to greenhouse gas emissions causing elevated temperatures under climate change.
Indications of the last episode has reportedly affected up to 75 percent of smaller corals and 25 percent of the larger varieties in the Marshalls says Fellenius.
Bleached coral are also becoming covered with algae preventing chances for recovery.
The last major bleaching event was in 1997 when a strong El Niño affected about a quarter of the world’s coral reefs.