Nearly four years after the worst bleaching event in the state’s history, coral reefs in West Hawaii are stabilizing and poised to recover, according to scientists from The Nature Conservancy (TNC).
TNC surveys revealed that an average of 60% of corals in West Hawaii bleached, with some reefs experiencing up to 90% mortality. For the last three years, TNC scientists have studied West Hawaii’s coral reefs to identify the most resilient, meaning they can resist or recover from the stress of warmer ocean temperatures.
Surveys showed that many of the most resilient reefs are in remote areas with limited shoreline access and exposure to human impacts.
These reefs had lots of corals and little or no coral disease, and there was evidence that new corals were beginning to grow.
The least resilient sites all had multiple “stressors,” including fishing pressure, land-based pollutants and runoff.