Jul 21, 2019 | Updated: 08:54 AM EDT

Corals Are At Risk At The Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve In Hawaii Due To The Increasing Seawater Temperature

May 31, 2017 12:24 PM EDT

A school of fish pass over a coral reef at Hanauma Bay on January 15, 2005 in Honolulu, Hawaii
(Photo : Donald Miralle/Getty Images) Researchers have found that the corals at the popular Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve in Hawaii are at risk due to the increasing seawater temperature.

Corals are facing a crisis at a Hawaiian tourist destination as a result of the climate change. The increasing temperature of the seawater hampers the coral reef of the tourist spot.

The growing sea water temperature creates a difficult situation for the corals at the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve on O'ahu, Hawaii. Currently, the area avails the status of the state protection. But, the nearshore corals of the area are at risk due to the global trend of the climate change.

The researchers at the Coral Reef Ecology Lab have already studied the third global bleaching event at the famous Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve or HBNP. This lab at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology investigated the event that occurred between 2014 and 2016. Dr. Paul Jokiel and the research team thoroughly investigated the bleaching events from 2014 to 2015. They observed the actual condition of the corals.

 The research team monitored the pattern of the bleaching and the causes behind this pattern. The researchers discovered that 9.8% of the corals at the Hanauma Bay, died and 47% of the reef flat corals bleached. Popular journal PeerJ revealed this fact clearly.

The findings of the study clearly indicate that temperature is the key factor behind the coral bleaching. The surprising thing is fish, corals all are protected in this area, but they can't avoid the negative impact of the seawater's rising temperature. It is a true fact that coral reefs, not only in the Hawaii but also in the whole world are suffering from the seawater temperature.

The increment of the carbon emissions for the last few decades has affected this increasing trend of temperature. The researchers utter that efforts are on to manage and protect the coral reef ecosystem. The shocking fact is temperatures of the seawater will still increase because the ocean will absorb the carbon continuously, Phys.org reported. Algae is an integral part of the corals.

Now the bleaching events occur only when coral tissues expel the algae. The said incident is actually related to important environmental factors. The Coral Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program has been playing a significant role since 1999 in monitoring the HBNP.

The Monitoring Program observed in 2002 an important decrease of the shallow coral cover. A barrier is built between the shallow nearshore and the deeper regions of the seaward at HBNP by the corals that take part in reef-building. This barrier with two channels helps the cool water to be carried to the shore from open ocean and afterward departs the Bay.

The researchers studied these patterns of the water flow to know the actual reason of the severe bleaching in some specific areas of HBNP. They noticed that bleaching and the mortality increase heavily in those regions where water absorbs the temperature and to retain it for a long time. On the other hand, some areas attain benefit from a specific circulation pattern that helps to flush out the warm water quickly. That means the pattern helps to flush in the cool water rapidly and this is very beneficial for the corals.

The Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is one of the most popular snorkeling locations and attracts a huge number of visitors every year. Currently, it is the Marine Life Conservation District. But, the painful fact is the coral cover of this area is rapidly decreasing. The crucial fact is the reef in this area will not exist without the living coral tissue and it will affect the reef-dwelling creatures severely.

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