Rise in Ocean temperature continues to cause coral bleaching on Hawaii’s reefs

Scientists have reported that large sections of coral reef on Oahu and parts of Kauai are continuing to suffer from high ocean temperatures.

The warm waters have resulted in bleaching of Hawaii's coral reef. The higher-than-normal ocean temperature across the islands of Hawaii draws out algae from stressed corals. Without the algae, the coral starves turns white and eventually dies.

Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR) has received 60 coral bleaching reports from people since late September from the islands of Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Molokai. The reports have indicated various levels of bleaching from pale to completely white and mostly in shallow, near-shore waters.

According to officials at Hawaii's Department of Land and Natural Resources, parts of Kauai, Maui, the Big Island and Honolulu's coral reefs are also experiencing the same phenomenon. However at Kaneohe Bay off Oahu around 75% of the dominant coral species surveyed have started to lose color or have turned completely white.

Two separate teams, one from Australia and another from Massachusetts, are spending a week in Hawaii to conduct in-water measurements of bleaching corals.

The Catlin Seaview Survey based in Australia is creating a baseline record of the world's coral reefs, in high-resolution, 360-degree panoramic vision. Richard Vevers, the survey director used an underwater camera to document bleaching on several affected patch reefs in Kaneohe Bay on Oahu's windward coast. The camera is much like the one Google uses to create Google Streetview images.

Team from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts is attempting to quantify superoxide, which is the main oxygen radical believed to be responsible for bleaching.

Data from a National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Coral Watch Program indicates that water temperatures have dropped since early October (from 86F to 82F), but is still dangerously warm for corals.