Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lord Howe Island's Bleached Reef Proves Climate Change

From ABC Australia:

Parts of the world's most southerly coral reef are under threat after it suffered its largest-recorded bleaching event.

Lord Howe Island is well known for its pristine environment and natural beauty.

The island's isolation has allowed it to develop unique and endemic marine life and the waters contain an unusual mix of tropical, sub-tropical and temperate corals.

But since January the waters around Lord Howe have experienced unusually warmer temperatures. The average rose by two degrees Celsius and the corals are showing the first signs of extensive bleaching.

And unlike the Great Barrier Reef, where corals have been known to recover, the genetically unique reef at Lord Howe could take decades to regenerate.

Peter Harrison from the Southern Cross University says it is the most significant bleaching event ever recorded at Lord Howe Island.

"The significance of this is that Lord Howe Island has the southern-most coral reef, so when that starts to see signs of extensive coral bleaching we know that the climate is definitely changing," he said.