Coral Bleaching Observed in Tubbataha ReefsNewsroom
El Niño has started taking its toll on Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park, where some coral bleaching has been observed to be developing in some areas since last July 2015.
The Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is a 97,030-hectare marine protected area (MPA) 150 km southeast of the city of Puerto Princesa in Palawan, the Philippines.
Tubbataha marine park rangers (MPRs) reported possible coral bleaching in the park, which was first observed in July this year. The team of MPRs on-duty surveyed the atolls and took some photos of the bleached corals. These photos were checked and confirmed to be a bleaching event by marine science experts.
Patches of bleached corals were observed from the dive sites called Amos Rock to South Park and in areas around the Bird Islet in the North Atoll. In the South Atoll, Black Rock to Delsan Wreck showed signs of bleaching and so did the Jessie Beazley Reef.
Affected corals were mostly in branching and tabular form and occurs at different depths. More recent reports reveal that some of the bleached corals are now overgrown by algae, indicating that several weeks have elapsed since the occurrence.
The TMO research staff has frequently visited Tubbataha to further document and record the bleaching event occurring in the park. The team makes use of the Automated Rapid Reef Assessment System (ARRAS) to obtain visual documentation of the condition of the corals. ARRAS is the product of collaboration between the University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute, National Institute of Physics and the Mapua Institute of Technology made possible by funding provided by the Department of Science and Technology. A report will also be sent to the NOAA Coral Reef Watch in order to contribute to the global data.
(Story courtesy of tubbatahareef.org.)