Coral bleaching in the Florida Key's heat wave
This week I wrapped up fieldwork with the US Geological Society for our collaborative Protect Our Reefs’ research projects aiming to quantify carbonate accretion and calcification on the Florida Reef Tract.
Using the Reef Budget methodology we were measuring benthic cover and fish / invertebrate abundance to calculate carbonate budgets, which can tell us how much reef growth or erosion is taking place on a given area of reef. We are comparing this data with biogeochemical measurements of calcification from benthic chamber incubations at the same sites later in the year. This will provide novel insight into the differences between reef accretion and reef calcification.
Fieldwork was successful. However, we did not anticipate the severity of the coral bleaching caused by unprecedented seawater temperatures. We observed bleaching in huge adult colonies, juveniles, and transplanted corals in all of the species present on our the shallow patch reef survey sites.
Witnessing a bleaching event like this first hand was a shocking reminder of why these surveys and our research is so critically important.
More to come.