TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Record ocean temperatures across the planet are causing coral to die across the globe. Hawaii, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and the Florida Keys are all experiencing coral dieing from the warmer water temperatures.
"The coral bleaching and disease, brought on by climate change and coupled with events like the current El Niño, are the largest and most pervasive threats to coral reefs around the world," said Mark Eakin, NOAA's Coral Reef Watch coordinator. "As a result, we are losing huge areas of coral across the U.S., as well as internationally. What really has us concerned is this event has been going on for more than a year and our preliminary model projections indicate it's likely to last well into 2016."
While some corals can recover from a mild bleaching event, severe or long-term bleaching can kill the coral for good. With dead coral beaches erode faster and sea life vanishes from the area.
This bleaching event first began in the summer of 2014 and has since expanded to all areas of the globe. The expansion is part of the strong El Nino event currently taking place in the Pacific Ocean.
Scientists believe the bleaching will last for a few more months, but it currently is starting to wind down in some parts of the planet, especially the Caribbean.