All posts tagged: longer stress corals

Extreme Heat Toasted the Caribbean’s Corals

Extreme Heat Toasted the Caribbean’s Corals

This article was originally published by Hakai Magazine. In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer of 2023 was the hottest on record. In the Caribbean, coral reefs sat in sweltering water for months—stewing in a dangerous marine heat wave that started earlier, lasted longer, and climbed to higher temperatures than ever recorded in some locations. In some places, the water was more than 32  degrees Celsius—as toasty as a hot tub. Ever since the water started to warm, researchers and conservationists have been anxiously watching to see how the debilitating heat has affected the region’s corals. For many Caribbean corals, last year’s heat proved too much to bear. The more time corals spend in hot water, the more likely they are to bleach, turning white as they expel the single-celled algae that live within their tissues. Without these symbiotic algae—and the energy they provide through photosynthesis—bleached corals starve. Survival becomes a struggle, and what was a healthy thicket of colorful coral can turn into a tangle of skeletons. Corals can recover from bleaching. But while some …