Seawater temperature and sublethal coral bleaching in Jamaica

Abstract

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.

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Study location: Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory, P.O. Box 35, Discovery Bay, Jamaica, W. Indies

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Gates, R.D. Seawater temperature and sublethal coral bleaching in Jamaica. Coral Reefs 8, 193–197 (1990). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00265010

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Keywords

  • Seasonal Variation
  • Significant Positive Correlation
  • Sedimentology
  • Seawater Temperature
  • Fore Reef