70% of Sekisei Lagoon coral reefs are dead

Sekisei Lagoon between Ishigaki and Iriomote islands is the home of the largest coral reeef in Japan, and according to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Environment Naha Natural Environment Office, 70 percent of the coral on the reef is dead. According to officials, the main reason is bleaching of the corals because of rising ocean temperatures. The final results of the survey were announced Tuesday.

The survey also showed that the rate of destruction is increasing. A similar survey conducted from September to October 2015 showed that 56.7% of the reef was dead, while the rate increased to 70.1% in 2016.

A representative of the office stated, “Based on our surveys, we predict that the rest of the corals that are now bleached as a whole will be dead in the future,” emphasizing the severity of the situation.

The Ministry of Environment conducted the surveys on coral bleaching at 35 points in the same area of the sea three times.

The third survey was conducted between Nov. 28 and Dec. 21. According to its results, the rate of the “coral community that is bleached as a whole” “decreased considerably,” while the rate of the “coral community that is dead as a whole” increased to more than 70%, which is far greater than the first results. Officials say this means that, “Weakened parts of the corals on the reef died.”

The average bleach rate at all points of the survey was 91.4% that is a slight decrease from the previous 97.0%. The reason may be because the seawater temperatures decreased for seasonal reasons, and parts of corals reefs have revived.