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Caribbean Coral Reefs Took a Beating This Summer

In the western Caribbean, some coral reefs have turned into eerie white ghost towns.

Scientists with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute have documented a major bleaching event in the reefs near Panama and the island of Curaçao. Such bleaching occurs when a reef loses the tiny photosynthetic algae that typically live in the coral, providing it with food (and color). Bleaching occurs when coral is under stress, most typically due to higher ocean temperatures. And this was a hot summer.

Abnormally warm water since June appears to have dealt a blow to shallow and deep-sea corals that is likely to top the devastation of 2005, when 80% of corals were bleached and as many as 40% died in areas on the eastern side of the Caribbean.

Click "source" to read the entire article and view a photo gallery of bleached corals.
 
 

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