‘Act now’ to prevent spread of coral bleaching
A REEF Check Survey that was conducted recently showed that a small percentage of the nation’s coral reefs are affected by coral bleaching.
The reef check survey, which was conducted in May, involved 42 different diving sites consisting of 16 different reefs.
Lydia Koehler, an independent marine biologist who headed the survey said that ten out of the 42 sites they visited showed signs of bleaching.
She added that most of the sites showed that less than two per cent of their coral population was affected by bleaching.
However, she added, two sites out of the ten sites, showed greater occurrences of bleaching with 2.5 per cent of their population being affected.
“If you look at the numbers, overall it is actually at a fairly low rate (of coral bleaching) which can be managed by reducing the stress experienced by the nation’s coral reefs,” she added.
Koehler said that even though some of the nation’s corals are experiencing bleaching, it does not mean they are dead and that there is a chance for the corals to recover naturally.
She explained that coral bleaching occurs when the coral is stressed causing it to “throw out algae that corals naturally contain in their tissue.”
“These algae contain 90 per cent of the nutrients that corals need to live (therefore) without it, the coral becomes weak (and) at some point it will die,” she said.
When asked whether the level of coral bleaching in the nation is concerning, Koehler said that the relevant authorities, the private sector as well as members of the public “need to act now.”
“The health of coral reefs are affected by many things, bleaching is one of them (and) so is disease. We need to manage all these impacts equally,” she said.
“Unfortunately, climate change will continue (and) we can’t manage it because it is happening on a global scale (but) what we can do is to reduce the stresses (experienced by the coral reefs) that we already know of,” she added.
Koehler said that it is important for Brunei to understand its coral reefs by establishing a monitoring programme that allows the reefs to be surveyed regularly.
“Reef check surveys need to happen twice a year, every year (and) that is how you can understand the underlying processes that happen in the reefs,” she added.
The Brunei Times