Corals of the Western Indian Ocean Still at Risk
The protracted La Niña phase that started in 2020 provided a haven for corals of the Western Indian Ocean (WIO). No significant bleaching was reported between 2020 and 2022 as a result. This haven is now diminishing as La Niña gradually comes to an end, El Niño and its characteristic warmer temperatures to take over.
A Cause for Alarm
As noted above, the last few years have been a bit cooler, but the next few years will be warmer on top of the 1-2°C rise in average global temperature above baseline measurements. Past mortality may have weeded out weaker corals, leaving behind a resilient cohort well-prepared for the coming season, at least for the short-term. Long-term, including the next two years, runaway warming could occasion high levels of bleaching and coral mortality. As we venture into 2023, temperatures across most of the WIO basin are already 1-2° C warmer than baseline averages from 1985-1990. Meanwhile, the seasonal outlook (bottom right) predicts moderate to high bleaching in the southern WIO, with greater than 60%.
Our Committment and Call to Action
We all have a collective responsibility to protect coral reefs. At CORDIO East Africa, we will continue monitoring the current situation and issue bi-weekly coral bleaching alerts over the next couple of months.
For our experienced partners, we encourage you to continue submitting observations on coral bleaching at this online reporting form.