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October 2010    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 25, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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The Coral is Fine at Wakatobi, But Elsewhere...

from the October, 2010 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

A Flotsam item from last month’s issue mentioned the Wildlife Conservation Society’s reports of major coral bleaching in Indonesia, especially in the Wakatobi islands, where 35 percent of the corals have turned white. Henrik Rosen of Wakatobi Resort wrote us to say that’s not true at his place. “Wakatobi is far from the Andaman Sea and other hot spots that experienced severe bleaching. It looks like we got spared from hot temperatures by upwelling currents from the Banda Sea, like many times before. In Waitii’s shallow top reefs and sheltered bay, some of the corals bleached slightly. However, all other dive sites showed no bleaching. Now with temperatures down, most corals recovered in Waitii. What contributes to the health of the corals in our vicinity is the excellent seawater quality (no pollution).”

We asked our e-mail subscribers who’ve been to Wakatobi recently if they can confirm Rosen’s comments. “I saw no bleaching, the reefs were sensational and the critter life superb,” says Alvin Rosenfeld (New York, NY) who was there in late July. “In fact, there was a guest I spoke to at the resort who said the reefs were in better shape now than 30 years ago when he first visited,” says Steve Kraus (Vancouver, BC), who visited in March. “Kudos to Wakatobi’s conservation program. We are heading back next spring.”

Wakatobi seems to be one of the lucky few dive resorts that’s spared global bleaching. The Caribbean will take a big hit this year. According to NOAA, above-average temperatures mean strong coral bleaching through October in the southern Caribbean. NOAA says it could be as severe as in 2005, when the largest thermal stress incident on record bleached over 80 percent of corals and killed over 40 percent of them across the Caribbean.

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