Hot summer spreads coral bleaching to all of Okinawa
Bleaching of coral caused by extremely hot summer and the lack of typhoons has caused the damage to coral reefs spread to all areas of Okinawa.
According to the WWF Japan’s website “Sango Map” that reports information on corals sent by divers, many divers have been posting comments like, “Corals are totally bleached!” or “The seawater temperature is high”. The bleaching has been reported in all areas in the prefecture from Onna, Motobu, and Itoman to Miyakojima City, Sekisei Lagoon in Taketomi, Ishigaki, and Iriomote.
There are a total of 20 reports of areas stating, “Corals are totally bleached.” One of from Motobu, two from Onna, five from Miyakojima City, nine from Ishigaki City, and three in Taketomi including Iriomote and Taketomi islands. When reports of “Corals are partially bleached,” coral bleaching reports cover almost all parts of Okinawa, like Nakijin, Yomitan, Chatan, Urasoe and Itoman.
According to Rintaro Suzuki, the director of WWF Coral Protection Research Center, corals within the Japanese archipelago are bleached in wide areas on a large scale. He cites a list of complex factors behind the damage, like fewer typhoons and the fact that seawater temperature didn’t fall enough during the winter among others.
Suzuki expressed concern that the coral bleaching situation could become like in 1998 when the condition became catastrophic. “If the seawater retains its high temperature that’s a real concern,” Suzuki says.