Mass bleaching of coral reefs in Taiwan waters reported

Mass bleaching of coral reefs in Taiwan waters reported

The Taiwan Coral Bleaching Observation Network (TCBON) stated in a press conference last Tuesday, January 12, that the coral reefs in the waters surrounding Taiwan are currently suffering from mass bleaching due to warming oceans.

TCBON reported how, in 2020, at least 31 percent of the coral reefs in the country’s waters have died from bleaching because of rising sea temperature. Taiwan’s largest coral island, Xiao Liuqiu, has already lost more than half of its corals.

Mass bleaching of coral reefs in Taiwan waters reported Coral Bleaching Investigation in South Taiwan. © Yves Chiu / Greenpeace
Image Source: Greenpeace

Kuo Chao-yang, a TCBON researcher said that these coral reefs will no longer recover even if water temperatures drop. Kuo is also a scholar at the Biodiversity Research Center in Taiwan’s leading research institute, Academic Sinica.

“It’s like the corals are being cooked.”

Kuo suspects that the mass bleaching of these coral reefs in Taiwan could be the result of global warming. The lack of typhoons in the country last year could have also been an additional factor. According to him, typhoons play a vital role in cooling the coral reefs and preventing the further spread of bleaching.

Moreover, Kuo reported that the ideal sea temperatures to promote coral growth ranges between 23 to 28 degrees Celsius. Reportedly, the Taiwanese waters reached almost 31 degrees Celsius last summer.

“Coral reefs are the rainforest in the ocean.”

“A coral reef without corals is just like a forest without trees and the reef-associated creatures will have to leave because there is no shelter or food,” Kuo said in the report. “If corals are dead, the coral reef ecosystem will start to collapse as its root is cut.”

As such, one of the founders of TCBON, Allen Chen urged the international community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Chen further said that coral reefs could become the “first ecosystem to completely disappear in the 21st century if global warming continues.”

(Source – Taiwan News)

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