The point of this dive is to ascertain the status of health of the various corals on the reef. The corals are watched as their colour and behaviours are predictors of how the reef will continue to function and provide food for the resident fish and flooding protection to the surrounding land based communities of Belize, Mexico and Guatamala.
Coral Bleaching is an indication that the reef is stressed and can be caused by a combination of factors.
Physical presence of foreign bodies ( such as fishing line)
Water temperatures below and or above optimum thresholds
Acidification of the oceans.
Pollution levels of sediment, phosphates and increased algae blooming
All of which (amongst other reasons) are indicators to a potential loss in sustainable fisheries due to the loss of the organic life forms within the crusty shell of hard corals.
The best way I can find to illustrate the phenomenan of bleaching is to show you evidence from the dive site near Tom Owens Caye
A healthy Lettuce Coral
Started to Bleach…..
Almost Totally Bleached…….
Bleaching on a larger scale on larger corals looks like….
A mound coral on to it’s final phases of bleaching