Hot Weather Coral Stress

Nature Foundation staff carried out survey dives within the Man of War Shoal Marine Protected Area on Thursday in order to record the presence of the serious coral ailment Coral Bleaching. Because of the recent warm weather it was decided to initiate phase one of the Nature Foundation’s Coral Reef Bleaching Response Plan which called for initials surveys to check for the presence or absemce of coral bleaching.


When corals are stressed by changes in conditions such as temperature, light, or nutrients, they expel the symbiotic algae living in their tissues, causing them to turn completely white. Warmer water temperatures can result in coral bleaching. When water is too warm, corals will expel the algae (zooxanthellae) living in their tissues causing the coral to turn completely white. This is called coral bleaching. When a coral bleaches, it is not dead. Corals can survive a bleaching event, but they are under more stress and are subject to mortality.

During the research dives on Mike’s Maze within the Marine Park there was a low incidence of bleaching but overall the coral was in good shape.

The Man of War Shoal Marine Park is a home and migratory stop over or breeding site for 3 IUCN Red List Species, 10 CITES Appendix I species and 89 Appendix II species. It is an area with a relatively healthy population of marine mammals including migratory whales and dolphins, numerous species of shark, sea turtles and numerous fish species. Studies have shown that biodiversity in this area, particularly coral reef density, is high and the economic goods and services which the ecosystem provides are in excess of fifty million dollars annually. The establishing of the Man of War Shoal Marine protected Area was also in accordance with the Specially Protected Areas of Wildlife (SPAW) Protocol