New Delhi, India: Rising sea surface temperatures due to global warming caused extensive coral bleaching in some of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands in 2010, which, according to P. Krishnan from Marine Research laboratory, is the severest in over a decade.
‘Reef surveys conducted there revealed that the corals have been extensively bleached during April-May 2010, ranging from 37 percent to 70 percent in various sites.’
Scientists from Marine Research Laboratory, Central Agriculture Research Institute in Port Blair and Regional Remote Sensing Centre in Nagpur, India, which is under the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), conducted a study to assess the extent of bleaching during 2010 at selected reef sites in the islands.
The sites surveyed January-June 2010 included Red Skin Island within Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park, North Bay, Chidiyatapu – popular tourist destinations – Havelock Aquarium and Havelock Wall, a popular diving site, South Button Island and Nicolson Island, which are protected islands.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are bestowed with the richest coral diversity among all Indian reefs. A total of 177 species of hard corals falling under 57 genera have been reported from these islands.
Bleaching is one of the major threats which has significantly affected the reefs across the globe during different time-periods. Coral reefs form some of the most diverse ecosystems on earth and are home to over 25 percent of all marine species in the sea.