A new report has found that over two-thirds of Japan’s biggest coral reef has died due to rising sea temperatures resulting from global warming.
According to the Japanese environment ministry, 70% of the Sekisei lagoon in Okinawa had been killed by bleaching. Warmer water temperatures can lead to coral bleaching – a phenomenon causing corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of all colour to turn completely white. The temperature of the seawater surrounding Japan’s Sekiseishoko coral reef was one to two degrees Celsius higher than normal between last June and September. The report follows a mass bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Queensland in northeastern Australia, last summer. Coral reefs are diverse ecosystems and are built by colonies of tiny animals found in marine waters that contain few nutrients. They are found all around the world in tropical and subtropical oceans. If the ocean water doesn’t return to normal temperature quickly, corals starve and die.