Corals thrive on remotest islands in the Galápagos

first_imgOur first reef community stop in the Reefscape project was the Galápagos Islands in December 2017.We found that ocean events such as El Niño can wipe out huge areas of reef, yet coral survival and regrowth remain evident.Our direct actions, be the destructive overfishing or constructive protection, have a huge impact on the future of coral reef ecosystems.One size does not fit all when it comes to coral reefs — even an archipelago hammered by coral-killing warm waters can harbor refugia for biodiversity. Adapted from Bing Maps.The Galápagos Islands are not widely known for their coral reefs. Most visitors to the islands’ waters seek big charismatic residents like sharks, manta rays, sea lions and whales, or unique creatures like marine iguanas. Dive shops in the Galápagos almost exclusively advertise the opportunity to see these large creatures, while few mention corals. Yet the archipelago is home to vibrant reefs, and we commenced the global Reefscape project there.Perhaps so little is mentioned about reefs in the Galápagos today because of a history of coral bleaching across the archipelago. The scientific literature reports ocean temperature spikes of up to 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) during the 1982-83 and 1997-98 El Niño events, and again to a much lesser degree in 2015. El Niño’s hot waters pushed many corals beyond their thermal tolerances, resulting in widespread reef-scale bleaching.last_img

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