Typhoons bring reprieve to bleaching of coral reefs
With the record high weather temperatures in the western Pacific, the ocean water around Okinawa also became warmer than usual, prompting serious concerns among scientists and environmentalists about bleaching of coral reefs around Okinawa.
However, the spat of late typhoons in the season is likely to give some much needed reprieve to the reefs. Officials at the Okinawa Meteorological Observatory expect that the seawater temperature in the western Pacific would decrease sharply after the latest typhoons. Coral specialists say that as the seawater temperature decreases, bleaching of corals stops and the reefs start to recover.
According to the Meteorological Observatory, after four typhoons passed through the area in September, the seawater temperature around Sakishima islands is now about 0.5 degrees lower than the annual average of 28 degrees centigrade.
Yoshikatsu Nakano, the chairman of the Japan Coral Reef Society Reef Conservation Committee, explains that corals will recover when the coral bleaching stops with the cooling of seawater, and the zooxanthellae, a photosynthetic algae that lives in the coral tissue and provides them with carbohydrates increases, and the reef starts to recover.
However, he says that corals in restoration process are vulnerable, and it’s necessary to take a careful look at the environment in the ocean, not only the temperature but also the inflow of livestock and household wastewater and soil that all have a strong impact on the health of corals.