Increasing coral calcification in Orbicella faveolata and Pseudodiploria strigosa at Flower Garden Banks, Gulf of Mexico
NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory used climate monitoring data and coral cores from the National Coral Reef Monitoring Program to show that two key coral species in Flower Garden Banks have increased calcification in the past 45 to 57 years. The data indicate that these corals have actually benefited from warming ocean temperatures over the last few decades. However, based on climate projections and the warming trend, the stimulation in growth due to warmer waters will eventually be impacted by worse and more frequent coral bleaching events. Given that the most severe bleaching event ever recorded at Flower Garden Banks occurred in 2016, the growth rates of these corals are likely reaching the threshold where further increases in ocean temperatures will no longer benefit coral growth.
Coral reefs are in decline worldwide and western Atlantic reefs have experienced the greatest losses in live coral cover of any region. The Flower Garden Banks in the Gulf of Mexico are high-latitude, deeper, remote reefs that are an outlier to this trend, as they have maintained coral cover equal to or greater than 50% since at least 1989.
Appearing as solitary forms in the fossil record more than 400 million years ago, corals are extremely ancient animals that evolved into modern reef-building forms over the last 25 million years. Continue Reading →
coral reef conservation program
The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) is a partnership between the NOAA Line Offices that work on coral reef issues: the National Ocean Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, and the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service. The CRCP brings together expertise from across NOAA for a multidisciplinary approach to managing and understanding coral reef ecosystems.
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