NOAA says hot oceans seeing 4th ‘global coral bleaching event’

By Michael Doyle | 04/15/2024 01:32 PM EDT

This is the second one in the past decade, the agency determined.

Bleached coral is visible at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, off the coast of Galveston, Texas, in the Gulf of Mexico, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. The sanctuary had some moderate bleaching this year but nothing like the devastation that hit other reefs during the summer's record-breaking heat. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Bleached coral is visible on Sept. 16, 2023, at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Galveston, Texas, in the Gulf of Mexico. LM Otero/AP

Rising ocean temperatures have triggered what scientists with NOAA now call a “global coral bleaching event” that’s afflicting both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

In an alarming but not necessarily irrevocable assessment, scientists reported Monday that “significant coral bleaching” in both hemispheres has occurred since early 2023. The affected areas range from Florida and the Caribbean to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and portions of the Indian Ocean.

“As the world’s oceans continue to warm, coral bleaching is becoming more frequent and severe,” Derek Manzello, coordinator of NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch program, said in a statement.


Manzello added that “when these events are sufficiently severe or prolonged, they can cause coral mortality, which hurts the people who depend on the coral reefs for their livelihoods.”