|Coral reefs cover less than 1 percent of the ocean floor but support a quarter of all marine species. (Photo by=AFP/Victor Bonito)|
[Asia News Communication = Reporter Reakkana] Nearly a third of Taiwan's corals are dying from bleaching caused by warming oceans in an alarming phenomenon that poses a severe threat to the island's delicate underwater ecosystem, conservationists warned on Wednesday (Jan 13).
An investigation conducted last year in 62 locations around the island by the Taiwan Coral Bleaching Observation Network (TCBON) showed bleaching had reached its worst recorded levels. Half of Taiwan's reefs have been hit by bleaching, with 31 percent so badly impacted that they are dying and probably beyond saving. "It's like the corals are being cooked," said Kuo Chao-yang, a postdoctoral scholar at the Biodiversity Research Center at Taiwan's leading research institute, Academia Sinica.
Coral reefs cover less than 1 percent of the ocean floor, but support a quarter of all marine species, providing them with food and shelter. Warming waters due to climate change cause corals to expel the food-producing algae living in their tissues, breaking down their symbiotic relationship and leading to loss of color and life in a process known as bleaching. The lack of typhoons last summer - which could have stirred up cooler waters from the deep - aggravated the bleaching, Kuo, a member of TCBON, told AFP. Mingo Lee, a diver who helps document coral health in Taiwan, described the level of bleaching as resembling "snow in the ocean".