Asia Minute: Japan Coral Study Not Encouraging

May 21, 2018

Credit eutrophication&hypoxia / Flickr

Coral reefs are a focus for many scientists here in Hawai‘i and around the world. A new government study of Japan’s largest coral reef confirms what scientists have been saying. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Rising ocean temperatures and coral reefs do not make a healthy mix.

The latest confirmation of that comes from Japan — which has just released an extensive government study using about a thousand monitoring sites around the country’s largest reef.

It’s been a decade since the latest comparison was performed.

The Environment Ministry analyzed information from all of those sites, as well as satellite photos and other information to judge the health of the corals. The verdict: only about 1.5 percent of the largest coral reef around islets in Okinawa is healthy.

That’s a decline of about 80-percent since the late 1980’s.

Some of the culprits include coral-eating starfish, and also several episodes of mass bleaching — the last one taking place in 2016.

Credit photolib.noaa.gov

Another steady factor that hurts coral: rising ocean temperatures — as well as increasing acidification of the water. According to NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, healthy coral is crucial for the well-being of other life in the sea.

NOAA says that corals make up less than one percent of the earth’s ocean environment, but are home to roughly 25-percent of the world’s marine life.