Alive and healthier than ever

This image of colourful and unbleached corals isn’t a before picture – it’s a recent image of corals on Turks and Caicos Islands that are alive and well. 

These corals in the Caribbean experienced very little bleaching. Those that were bleached recovered quickly from the 2014-2017 global coral-bleaching event, with some even appearing healthier in 2017 when compared to 2014.

“Boulder-type corals on the Turks and Caicos Islands demonstrated no significant bleaching as a result of the peak thermal stress in late 2015,” says researcher Abby Knipp from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“Plate-type corals did suffer bleaching, but they quickly rebounded. Their pigmentation levels were back to normal within months of the anomalously high thermal stress.”

The researchers suggest more studies are needed to explain the unusual hardiness of the corals, but factors like ocean salinity and acidity are likely to play a role, as well as the 2017 hurricanes Irma and Maria which likely cooled the surface water.

The full research is published in the journal Applied Sciences.

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