Coral Reefs

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 193–197 | Cite as

Seawater temperature and sublethal coral bleaching in Jamaica

  • R. D. Gates


Permanent study sites were established at 6 m, 12 m and 18 m on the West Fore Reef at Discovery Bay, Jamaica. Colonies of Montastrea annularis, Porites astreoides, Porites porites and Agaricia spp. were assessed for presence and extent of bleached tissue at two month intervals between October 1986 and September 1987. In 98% of all corals exhibiting a bleaching response, less than 25% of the colony appeared pale. In the remaining 2%, more than 25% of the tissue appeared pale. M. annularis, P. astreoides and Agaricia spp. showed a significant positive correlation between the percent of colonies exhibiting a partial bleaching response and seawater temperature. There was no significant difference in the percentage of colonies bleached between the three depths. M. annularis and Agaricia spp. exhibited a significantly higher percentage of colonies bleached than P. astreoides and P. porites. For M. annularis 15% of coral colonies studied showed 1–2 cm2 randomly seattered patches of pale tissue which remained constant throughout the study. The partial bleaching patterns observed in this study were never lethal and are considered, in part, to be a response to seasonal variations in seawater temperature.


Seasonal Variation Significant Positive Correlation Sedimentology Seawater Temperature Fore Reef 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Dodge RE, Logan A, Antonius A (1982) Quantitative reef assessment in Burmuda: a comparison of methods and preliminary results. Bull Mar Sci 32:745–760Google Scholar
  2. Drew EA (1972) The biology and physiology of algal-invertebrate symbiosis. I. The density of algal cells in a number of hermatypic hard corals and alcyonarians from various depths. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 9:71–75Google Scholar
  3. Edmunds PJ, Davies PS (1986) An energy budget for Porites porites (Scleractinia). Mar Biol 92:339–347Google Scholar
  4. Edmunds PJ, Davies PS (1989) An energy budget for Porites porites (Scleractinia) growing in a stress environment. Coral Reefs 8:37–43Google Scholar
  5. Egana AC, Disalvo LH (1982) Mass expulsion of zooxanthellae by Easter Island corals. Pac Sci 36:61–63Google Scholar
  6. Franzisket L (1970) The atrophy of hermatypic reef corals maintained in darkness and their subsequent regeneration in light. Int Rev Ges Hydrobiol 55:1–12Google Scholar
  7. Glynn PW (1983) Extensive “bleaching” and death of reef corals on the Pacific coast of Panama. Environ Conserv 10:149–154Google Scholar
  8. Glynn PW (1984) Widespread coral mortality and the 1982–83 El Nino warming event. Environ Conserv 11:133–146Google Scholar
  9. Goreau TF (1964) Mass expulsion of zooxanthellae from Jamaican coral reef communities after hurricane Flora. Science 145:383–386Google Scholar
  10. Harriot VJ (1985) Mortality rates of scleratinian corals before and during a mass bleaching event. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 21:81–88Google Scholar
  11. Hoegh-Guldberg O, McCloskey LR, Muscatine L (1987) Expulsion of zooxanthellae by symbiotic cnidarians from the Red Sea. Coral Reefs 5:201–204Google Scholar
  12. Jaap WC (1979) Observation on zooxanthellae expulsion at Middle Sambo Reef, Florida Keys. Bull Mar Sci 29:414–422Google Scholar
  13. Jokiel PL, Coles SL (1974) Effects of heated effluent on hermatypic corals at Kahe Point, Oahu. Pac Sci 28:1–18Google Scholar
  14. Lasker HR, Peters EC, Coffroth MA (1984) Bleaching of reef coelenterates in the San Blas Islands, Panama. Coral Reefs 3:183–190Google Scholar
  15. Loya Y (1972) Community structure and species diversity of hermatypic corals at Eilat, Red Sea. Mar Biol 13:100–123Google Scholar
  16. Marcus J, Thorhaug A (1981) Pacific versus Atlantic responses of subtropical hermatypic coral Porites spp. to temperature and salinity effects. Proc 4th Int Coral Reef Symp 2:15–20Google Scholar
  17. Muscatine L (1980) Uptake, retention and release of dissolved inorganic nutrients by marine alga-invertebrate associations. In: Cook CB, Pappas PW, Rudolph ED (eds) Cellular interactions in symbiosis and parasitism. Ohio State University Press, Columbus, pp 229–244Google Scholar
  18. Muscatine L, Falkowski PG, Dubinsky Z (1983) Carbon budgets in symbiotic associations. In: Schenk HEA, Schwemmler W (eds) Endocytobiology. II. Intracellular space as oligigenetic ecosystem. de Gruyter, Berlin, pp 649–658Google Scholar
  19. Palca J (1987) Bleaching of Caribbean corals a cause for concern. Nature 330:307Google Scholar
  20. Roberts L (1987) Coral bleaching threatens Atlantic Reefs. Science 238:1228–1229Google Scholar
  21. Shinn EA (1966) Coral growth rate, an environmental indicator. J Paleontol 40:233–240Google Scholar
  22. Steen GR, Muscatine L (1987) Low temperature evokes rapid exocytosis of symbiotic algae by a sea anemone. Biol Bull 172:246–263Google Scholar
  23. Trench RK (1979) The cell biology of plant-animal symbiosis. Ann Rev Plant Physiol 30:485–531Google Scholar
  24. Weinberg S (1981) A comparison of coral survey methods. Bijd Dierk 51:199–218Google Scholar
  25. Williams EH, Goenaga C, Vicente V (1987) Mass bleachings on Atlantic coral reefs. Science 237:877–878Google Scholar
  26. Zar JH (1974) Biostatistical analysis. Prentice Hall International, LondonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. D. Gates
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of Newcastle upon TyneNewcastle upon TyneUK

Personalised recommendations