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LOOK! Bleached Corals in the Pacific Have Started Evolving

Nov 21, 2016 05:40 AM EST
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Scientists discover that "dead" corals in an island in the Pacific are starting to get back to life, defying expectations in the once-stunning coral reefs in the region. 

Marine experts who visited the island of Kiritimati last 2015 and this April pronounced it a "boneyard of dead coral" after seeing that about 85 percent of its coral population were dead, with 10 percent sick and bleached but technically alive and only 5 percent in "okay" condition. 

However, upon returning this month, scientists have discovered that 6 to 7 percent of the corals are now alive and not bleach. Julia Baum from the University of Victoria told New Scientist that they returned with what initially was dead but were stunned to see some corals literally coming back to life. 

Kim Cobb from Georgia Tech added that a lot of fishes that were absent from the reef are now back in their homes. 

It can be explained that hot water from the El Niño has made the area one of the worst-hit spots in the world. The phenomenon is the natural warming of the Pacific every few years that changes weather worldwide. Unfortunately, its effects are becoming more severe with global warming. 

However, the small percentage of growth in the island is a good sign. Baum said this is a clear indication that the coral reefs are starting to recover from the damages. She said that not only did some of the bleach corals recover, but there are coral babies as well. 

Another study from Current Biology explained that even during massive losses, coral species are able to bounce back even for a million years. A similar event occurred in Western Australia 12 years after the 1998 coral die-off. Half of the original reef revived but was damaged again by recent weather conditions. 

However, Baum is wary of the constant damage that reefs in Kiritimati may get from any causes. She said this is like a person who slowly recovers after being very sick and then being infected with other illnesses. 

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