UCF Global Perspectives


Coral Bleaching Hits the Maldives

Natasha Goolcharran, Intern, South Asia

June 30, 2016

The once pristine coral reefs of the Maldives have been left devastated by one of the biggest coral bleaching events in history (Telegraph). The Indian Ocean archipelago is revered for its colorful coral gardens. However, some of the country’s most treasured reefs are now barely recognizable. The Ocean Agency, in partnership with Google, the University of Queensland, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and XL Catlin, have been documenting the event since late 2014 (Envirotech). The bleaching has been attributed to warming waters, pollutants and other environmental problems (Guardian).

As ocean temperatures become exceedingly warm, animal polyps reject tiny plants growing on the coral as they move on in search of cooler climes (Envirotech). In their absence, the coral no longer glow, take on a bleached appearance and eventually die (Envirotech). The Environment and Energy Minister of the Maldives, Thoriq Ibrahim, has urged industrialized countries to rapidly ratify the Paris Climate Agreement to further cut carbon emissions (Guardian). Prolonged inaction will result in the impending threat of rising sea levels for the island country. The Maldives government and the private sector continue to monitor the situation through an assessment of permanent coral sites and continuous research into reef health (Guardian).






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