CoralWatch | Red Sea
The unique geological and climatic characteristics of the Red Sea provide ideal conditions for coral growth. The warm water and absence of fresh water runoffs provide suitable conditions for coral reef formation adjacent to the coastlines.
In healthy coral, symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) live within the coral tissue. Algae provide the coral with food and energy as well as their characteristic brown-green colour. Stressful environmental conditions can cause the coral to expel the symbiotic algae, changing the coral colour to white. This whitening of coral is called ‘coral bleaching’. Sometimes corals can recover from bleaching, but if stressful conditions are severe, or persist for a long time, loss of symbiotic algae and the nutrients they provide can lead to coral death. Even when corals do recover, they are vulnerable to diseases and other stress and not always return to full health.
The longer the coral is exposed to a stressor, the greater the chances of mortality. Corals can recover quickly from bleaching events once the sources of stress are removed. In some cases, corals can recover their colour within days. However, each bleaching event weakens the overall health of the coral over time.
Our research team is currently carrying out regular surveys using CoralWatch standard permanent transect method. A permanent transect will give us the opportunity to monitor the same corals over time.
CoralWatch is a not-for-profit citizen science program based at The University of Queensland working with volunteers worldwide to increase understanding of coral reefs, coral bleaching and climate change.