Photographs of coral colonies from Admiral Reef before (panels a, c, e) and after (panels b, d, f) the cold-water anomaly. Photographs were taken in May 2009 (before) and February 2010 (after). Coral species shown are Montastraea faveolata (a, b), Porites astreoides (c, d), and Siderastrea siderea (e, f). “After” photographs of M. faveolata and P. astreoides (panels b, d) show dead colonies, whereas S. siderea (panel f) remained alive. Pigmentation of dead M. faveolata (panel b) is due to overgrowth of the coral skeleton by cyanobacteria and filamentous algae. PHOTO COURTESY DUSTIN KEMP, UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA.
Water temps below 54 degrees proves fatal to reef system in the Florida Keys
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Amid all the concern over the impacts of rising sea temperatures to coral reefs, University of Georgia researchers have found that cold water is just as bad.
An extended cold snap in Florida in January and February 2010 killed nearly all the coral in a 200- to 300-year-old reef that had survived other extreme events, including the 1998 El Niño bleaching that damaged coral reefs across widespread regions of the world’s oceans.
During the 2010 cold snap, water temperatures at inshore reefs in the upper Florida Keys dropped below 54 degrees and remained below 64 for two weeks. The University of Georgia team had planned to sample corals at Admiral Reef, an inshore reef off Key Largo. When they arrived, they discovered that the reef, once abundant in hard and soft corals, was essentially dead.
“It was the saddest thing I’ve ever seen,” said lead researcher Dustin Kemp. “The large, reef-building corals were gone. The severe cold water appeared to kill the corals quite rapidly. Corals and their symbiotic algae have a range of stress tolerance,” Kemp said. “Some can handle moderate stress, some are highly sensitive, and some are in between. But extreme cold is just one stressor among many.” Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, El Niño, Environment, global warming, Summit County news | Tagged: climate, coral reefs, Florida cold snap, Florida Keys, global warming, Key Largo, National Science Foundation, University of Georgia | Leave a comment »