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The Near-Death Experience of South Andaman Island Corals

Reference
Marimuthu, N., Wilson, J.J., Vinithkumar, N.V. and Kirubagaran, R. 2013. Coral reef recovery in South Andaman Islands after the bleaching event 2010. Journal of Ocean University of China (Oceanic and Coastal Sea Research) 12: 91-96.
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the eastern part of the Bay of Bengal consist of a chain of 572 islands with fringing reefs, where Marimuthu et al. (2013) say that "many pristine and diverse organisms can be found," scattered throughout "12,000 km2 of reef lagoons, coral banks, reef slopes and reef flat areas (Turner et al., 2001)."

In a study designed to determine the degree of coral bleaching due to a significant warming event that occurred in this part of the world in the summer of 2010 - when sea surface temperatures (SSTs) rose to about 34°C, resulting in the bleaching of 74 to 77% of the corals surrounding Havelock Island and Port Blair Bay, respectively - as well as the degree of subsequent recovery of the corals, when the mean SST of the recovery study period (December 2010 to January 2011) was about 29.5°C, Marimuthu et al. worked with pre-bleaching population data that had been obtained by the line intercept transect (LIT) method of English et al. (1997) in July 2010, and with post-bleaching data they collected in January 2011 for the most severely affected corals, which included Acropora cerealis, A. humilis, Montipora sp., Favia pallida, Diploastrea sp., Goniopora sp., Fungia concinna, Gardineroseries sp., Porites sp., Favites abdita and Lobophyllia robusta. And what did they learn?

The four researchers report that "the observed post bleaching recovery [January 2011] of coral cover was 21.1% at Port Blair Bay and 13.29% at Havelock Island," and they indicate that "once the sea water temperature resumed back to the normal condition, most of the corals where found recovered." It would thus appear that these corals apparently have what it takes to survive a horrible case of bleaching.

Additional References
English, S., Wilkinson, C and Baker, V. 1997. Survey Manual for Tropical Marine Resources. Australian Institute of Marine Sciences, Townsville, Australia.

Turner, J.R., Vousden, D., Klaus, R., Satyanarayana, C., Fenner, D., Venkataraman, K., Rajan, P.T. and Subba Rao, N.V. 2001. Remote sensing and rapid site assessment survey. In: Coral Reef Systems of the Andaman Islands. Government of India and United Nations Development Programme, Global Environment Facility.

Archived 2 July 2013