2 Aug 2019

Guam reefs damaged by warming ocean

8:36 am on 2 August 2019

A third of Guam's coral reefs have died because of rising ocean temperatures and bleaching, researchers say.

A Guam coral reef in 2013.

A Guam coral reef in 2013. Photo: NOAA Photo Library

The University of Guam researchers found increased temperatures killed 34 percent of the territory's coral reefs between 2013 and 2017.

The Guam Daily Post reported the damage was most severe off Guam's east coast where 60 percent of the reefs are gone.

Meanwhile, Guam is anticipating another mass bleaching event, which usually precedes large-scale reef death.

A multi-agency Guam Coral Reef Response team is monitoring the island's reefs and trying to revive coral communities in line with a 2017 recovery plan.

Negative impacts on reefs could be reduced by making changes to local stressors such as Guam's pollution, sewage system and plastic waste, the researchers say.

The study was published in the scientific journal Coral Reefs.

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