Eilat Corals Show Unique Resistance To Cause Of Deterioration
Source: Jerusalem Post
Author: Sharon Udasin
September 22, 2013
The vibrantly colored coral reefs of the northern Red Sea are unlikely to fall victim to the deteriorative process called coral bleaching that plagues so many other reefs around the globe, Israeli researchers have found.
Despite the fact that the Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba marine ecosystem is experiencing the rise in water temperature that causes so many reefs to fall prey to bleaching, the area contains a unique quality that prevents the deterioration from occurring, according to a team of researchers from the Hebrew University and Bar-Ilan University. The researchers published their findings in the journal Global Change Biology on Monday, in an article called "A Coral Reef Refuge in the Red Sea."
Coral bleaching typically occurs when seawater temperatures exceed the local summer maximum by 1 to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the researchers explain. At such temperatures, the coral's symbiotic algae are lost, which leads to the coral's bleaching and consequential death.
Water temperatures in the Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba are also rising, but the researchers have found that a "warm-water barrier" exists in the southern Red Sea, which allows only heat-tolerant genotypes of corals to enter the Red Sea from the Gulf of Aden. This process occurred following the disappearance of corals from the Red Sea during the last glacial period, approximately 15,000 years ago, the researchers explained. Scientists therefore predict that no bleaching will occur in the area for the next century, making the region a unique refuge for coral reefs.
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