Mindanao coastlines under coral bleaching alert
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Nearly all of Mindanao’s southern coastlines were marked as under watch for coral bleaching, a global phenomenon lethal to reef ecosystems.
The Philippine Coral Bleaching Watch (PCBW) made the announcement on Wednesday, March 14, citing satellite data from the US government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
It said the coastlines have been categorized under Bleaching Alert Watch, the second level in the 5-tiered warning system, with no stress being the lowest and the first, and alert level 2 being the highest.
“Summer is near as it starts to warm our oceans,” said the PCBW, which was established by Filipino environmentalists and scientists. It is based at the Marine Science Institute of the University of the Philippines Diliman campus.
The warning affects Tawi-Tawi, Sulu, Zamboanga, Davao Gulf, and Sarangani, all being part of the island region’s southern coastlines.
Bleaching occurs when corals turn completely white due to changes in ocean temperature, runoff and pollution, overexposure to sunlight, and extreme low tides, according to NOAA’s National Ocean Service.
The phenomenon has damaged important coral reefs in the world, including those off the coast of Tsushima island in Japan.
Bleaching comes as a threat to ocean life because reefs quickly degrade when corals die. Since 2015, scientists have said tropical coral reefs around the world saw above-normal temperatures.
The following year in 2016, researchers said Australia’s Great Barrier Reef also suffered its worst coral bleaching in recorded history.
Meanwhile, the PCBW in a Facebook post on Wednesday said Mindanao’s coastlines might be saved by La Niña.
“Good news is that we might get a bit of respite because of La Nina this year. Let’s see what happens,” it said. – Rappler.com