Some Corals Have Started Adapting to Warmer Temperatures

This new study reveals evidence that some corals are adapting to warming ocean waters — offering great hope following recent reports of coral die-offs due to rising temperatures.

Researchers observed how reefs in two Kenyan marine national parks responded to extreme temperature exposure over time. They found that 11 of the 21 coral species that they studied showed less of the destructive coral bleaching than others.

Looking at two similarly severe warming events in 1998 and 2016, Wildlife Conservation Society zoologist Tim McClanahan found that the number of pale and bleached coral colonies declined from 73% to 27%, and 96% to 60%, in the two parks with different background temperatures. About half of the most common species did not bleach strongly in 2016.

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The Great Barrier Reef is experiencing a major coral bleaching event right now

diver looking at bleached corals
Corals along large swaths of the Great Barrier Reef have lost their symbiotic algae, removing their vibrant colors and primary food supply, new observations show.

A severe coral bleaching event spurred by high ocean temperatures has struck the Great Barrier Reef for an unprecedented second time in 12 months, reveal aerial surveys released April 10 by scientists at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia. While last year the northern third of the reef was hardest hit, this time around the reef’s midsection experienced the worst bleaching. The two bleaching events together span around 1,500 kilometers of the 2,300-kilometer-long reef.

“It takes at least a decade for a full recovery of even…