Bleaching in Fiji

Bleached Acropora spp. close to Suva in January. Image courtesy of Tom Vierus.

Bleached Acropora spp. close to Suva. Image courtesy of Tom Vierus.

So it seems that Fiji has been unable to escape the extreme water temperatures of the 2015/2016 El Niño after all. Two of our team members (Steven and Ryan) last week reported temperatures in Savusavu (on the south of Vanua Levu) rising to over 35°C in shallow reefs. Further west from our base in Suva at Korolevu-i-wai, Victor Bonito (Reef Explorer Fiji Ltd) has reported serious bleaching and related mortality of corals (25-30% already dead). Furthermore, at the start of this week when temperatures never dropped below 30°C, there was a major fish kill at these reefs. Check his updates here. Unfortunately, though we were hoping nearby cyclones would bring some relief from the high temperatures, it seems their courses now will not bring them close enough to Fiji.

Though our dives over the last couple of weeks have not shown anything too much out of the ordinary (a few individual bleached colonies here and there – see image), it seems that it is likely they will or are currently being affected by the temperature anomalies. I am heading back to one of our sites now in Ovalau so will report on the situation there, but fingers crossed the reefs are flushed enough by cooler oceanic water that they remain healthy.

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