WASHINGTON (AP) — The bleaching of colorful coral is spreading into a worldwide, devastating crisis, scientists say, and they predict it will likely get worse.
Triggered by global warming and the El Nino, record hot ocean water is causing fragile coral to go white and often die, threatening picturesque reefs that are hotspots of marine life, experts say.
The spread of sickly white started more than a year ago in Guam, then devastated Hawaii, infected the rest of the tropical Pacific and the Indian oceans and has now infested Florida and the Caribbean. On Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and international reef scientists pronounced it a global coral bleaching event, only the third in recorded history.
No place with coral has been spared, though some regions such as Hawaii have been hit harder than others, experts said. Excessive heat stresses the living coral, which turns white and then becomes vulnerable to disease. read more…