Rapid coral mortality following unusually calm and hot conditions on Iriomote, Japan

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Abstract

Coral bleaching can be induced by many different stressors, however, the most common cause of mass bleaching in the field is higher than average sea surface temperatures (SST). Here, we describe an unusual bleaching event that followed very calm sea conditions combined with higher than average SST. Patterns of mortality differed from typical bleaching in four ways: 1) mortality was very rapid; 2) a different suite of species were most affected; 3) tissue mortality in Acropora spp. was often restricted to the center of the colony; 4) the event occurred early in summer. The two weeks prior to the event included 8 days where the average wind speed was less than 3 ms -1 . In addition, SSTs in the weeks preceding and during the event were 1.0-1.5°C higher than the mean for the last 30 years. We hypothesize that this unusual bleaching event was caused by anoxia resulting from a lack of water movement induced by low wind speeds combined with high SST.

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Baird, A. H., Keith, S. A., Woolsey, E., Yoshida, R., & Naruse, T. (2018). Rapid coral mortality following unusually calm and hot conditions on Iriomote, Japan. F1000Research, 6. https://doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.12660.2

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