Although the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, issued an advisory in July announcing above-average sea surface temperatures in the wider Caribbean region, there had been no clear indication of increased sea temperatures in Panama and the western Caribbean until late August-early September.
Scientists and local dive operators first noticed coral bleaching in the waters surrounding Isla Colon in Panama's Bocas del Toro province in July. Smithsonian staff scientist Nancy Knowlton and colleagues documented an extensive bleaching event in late September. Station personnel recorded an extreme sea water temperature of 32 degrees C. Normal temperatures at this time of year are closer to 28 degrees C. This warming event currently affects the entire Caribbean coast of Panama from Kuna-Yala to Bocas del Toro and has also been reported at sites in Costa Rica.
An extensive coral reef monitoring network in Panama, established over a decade ago by staff scientist Héctor M. Guzmán of STRI and partially funded by the Nature Conservancy, consists of 33 sites along both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of the Isthmus, with 11 sites in the Bocas del Toro area. As of Oct. 3, 95 percent of the seafloor at the Bocas del Toro sites had been checked for bleaching. Coral mortality was limited to shallow areas near Isla Colon and a semi-lagoon area in Bocas del Toro, which is considered to be particularly vulnerable to bleaching as water circulation there is slow and temperatures tend to rise quickly. Researchers expect to have a complete report of the state of the coral reefs in several weeks.
Coral polyps, the tiny organisms that make up a coral reef, contain photosynthetic algae called zoxanthellae. Coral bleaching occurs when corals lose their color as a result of the loss of their algal component, which is caused by increased water temperature or other stress factors. Bleaching impairs vital functions of the coral such as reproduction and growth.With prolonged warming, corals begin to die releasing great quantities of mucous resulting in increasingly turbid waters. Oxygen levels may fall as bacteria and fungi proliferate. Anoxic conditions affect fish and coastal productivity. STRI has monitored the water column to a depth of 20 meters at 23 sites. "Dissolved oxygen dropped to less than 3 milligrams per liter at 10 meters and nearly zero milligrams per liter at the bottom," said STRI technician Plinio Gondola, who recorded the measurements. It is still not clear if temperature rise is directly related to bleaching and anoxia at this site.
The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, headquartered in Panama City, Panama is a unit of the Smithsonian Institution. The Institute furthers the understanding of tropical nature and its importance to human welfare, trains students to conduct research in the tropics and promotes conservation by increasing public awareness of the beauty and importance of tropical ecosystems. www.stri.org
Beth King | EurekAlert!
How does the loss of species alter ecosystems?
18.05.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Excess diesel emissions bring global health & environmental impacts
16.05.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.
In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...
Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
17.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.05.2017 | Life Sciences
23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering