By George Dvorsky, Gizmodo.Com, Oct. 9, 2015 – Corals around the world are turning white, a dangerous “bleaching event” that’s being triggered by climate change and a burgeoning El Niño. Scientists have seen this sort of thing before, but this event appears to be the worst yet.
The U.S. National Oceanographic Administration (NOAA) has officially declared a global bleaching event, reports Nature News. It’s the third time scientists have seen such a thing, but this particular bleaching trend—where warmer waters cause reefs to let go of the algae that colors them—is expected to worsen over the coming months.
The NOAA explains the bizarre phenomenon:
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.