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17 Aug 2010: Spike In Ocean Temperatures
Causes Coral Bleaching off Indonesia

A spike in ocean temperatures has devastated coral reef populations off the Indonesian coast this summer, bleaching more than 60 percent of the coral off Aceh province, scientists say. Coral bleaching, which occurs when heat drives out algae living within coral tissues, is an indicator of stress that could eventually kill coral populations. The team of international scientists found that warmer waters have killed 80 percent of some species and predicted that more colonies could die within months. They blamed rising sea surface temperatures in the Andaman Sea. Temperatures have soared this summer, reaching a peak in May of 34 degrees Celsius (93 F), about 4 degrees C higher than long-term averages, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “This is a tragedy not only for some of the world’s most biodiverse coral reefs, but also for people in the region, many of whom are extremely impoverished and depend on these reefs for their food and livelihoods,” said Caleb McClennen, marine program director for the Wildlife Conservation Society. Meanwhile, a new study says rising ocean temperatures in the waters along the U.S. East Coast have reduced the range where blue mussels are able to survive.


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