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Management of bleached and severely damaged coral reefs
Westmacott, S.; Teleki, K.; Wells, S.; West, J. (2000). Management of bleached and severely damaged coral reefs. IUCN Publications Services Unit: Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. ISBN 2-8317-0545-2. vi + 37 pp.

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  • Westmacott, S.
  • Teleki, K.
  • Wells, S.
  • West, J.

    This booklet was produced to provide guidance for managers, policy makers and all those who are concerned about the severe reef degradation caused by coral bleaching and a range of other impacts. Coral bleaching is caused by high sea surface temperatures and high levels of sunlight (UV), which affect the physiology of the coral and cause a whitening effect, or ‘bleaching’. This loss of colour is due to the loss of symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) upon which the coral polyp depends for much of its food. Prolonged bleaching conditions (for over 10 weeks) can eventually lead to death of the coral polyp. Sustained high water temperatures (1–2oC above normal maximums) during 1998 caused the most geographically extensive bleaching event ever recorded. The Indian Ocean was one of the worst affected regions, with coral death as high as 90% over large areas of reef. The Pacific and Caribbean regions were also affected, but they did not experience the same level of coral mortality. Other human impacts continue to threaten the survival of coral reefs. Coastal development, poor land use practices, over exploitation of marine resources and destructive fishing methods — as well as waste disposal and pollution from ships — can all negatively affect the state of the reefs. Together, these impacts, especially when combined with increased coral bleaching, pose a serious threat to the survival of the world’s coral reefs. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has predicted an increase of 1–2°C in sea surface temperatures over the next 100 years, such that coral bleaching events will become a regular event in the next 30–50 years.

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