Jul
02
2007

The upside of hurricanes: Recovery for coral

Hurricane help: New research is finding that the churning waters from hurricanes can speed up the recovery of coral beds suffering from coral bleaching. (Photo from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association)
Hurricane help: New research is finding that the churning waters from hurricanes can speed up the recovery of coral beds suffering from coral bleaching. (Photo from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association)
After seeing the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina, among other recent storms, hurricanes have been fighting a losing p.r. war. They’re just plain bad, right?

But new research is showing that the effects of hurricane weather can have a positive impact on some coral beds, particularly those that are suffering from stress caused by warming water temperatures. Ironically, warming waters is one of the factors that lead to more and bigger hurricanes.

A team of researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has found that hurricanes off of Florida and the Virgin Islands in 2005 were a benefit to “bleaching” coral beds in those areas. The bleaching problem is caused by the loss of algae in the area and a reduction in the pigments of the corals in the area when they’re stressed by warm weather.

Hurricanes Rita and Wilma in 2005 stirred up the waters of those bleached coral beds and were able to lower the water temperatures in the impacted coral beds by as much as nine degrees.

That water temperature saw a quicker recovery rate for the bleached coral beds. The researchers also point out that a direct hit by a hurricane to a coral bed still did vast damage, but areas on the edges of the storm showed improvement on the bleaching condition. Those improvements could be seen as far as 250 miles away from the hurricane’s main path.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

This article is very interesting. I really learned a lot!

posted on Sat, 08/18/2007 - 11:03am
Billie-Jean Wilber's picture
Billie-Jean Wilber says:

This is a very interestingarticle i did not knowthat hurricans had an upside.

posted on Sat, 11/17/2007 - 12:59pm

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