© 2020 WLRN
MIAMI | SOUTH FLORIDA
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Environment
In South Florida, where the Everglades meet the bays, environmental challenges abound. Sea level rise threatens homes and real estate. Invasive species imperil native plants and animals. Pesticides reduce the risk of mosquito-borne diseases, but at what cost? WLRN's award-winning environment reporting strives to capture the color and complexity of human interaction with one of the most biodiverse areas of the planet.

Reefs In Hot Water: Keys On High Alert For Coral Bleaching

partial_bleaching_upper_keys_fwri.jpg
Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
/
FWC
A greater star coral in the Upper Keys shows partial bleaching

All of the Florida Keys reef is under thermal stress — meaning the water is warm enough that corals may start bleaching.

Corals bleach when they expel the algae that feed them and give them color. Bleaching can be fatal to corals, though some do recover.

The current coral bleaching alert is at the highest level for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. That's according to the Coral Reef Watch, a federal program that tracks sea temperatures.

That doesn't necessarily mean there will be a mass bleaching event. But divers have reported 50 cases of paling or partial bleaching in the last few weeks.

There's nothing you can do to stop coral bleaching once it starts — but scientists want citizen observations so they know where and what kind of corals are being affected.