Hawaii coral reefs stabilizing following bleaching event

Hawaii coral reefs stabilizing following bleaching event
Warmer ocean temperatures resulted in a severe coral bleaching event in Hawaii (Image: DLNR)

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) - An environmental organization says coral reefs off the Big Island are stabilizing nearly four years after Hawaii's worst bleaching event.

West Hawaii Today reports warm ocean water temperatures in 2015 caused the first statewide bleaching event, damaging delicate coral reefs.

Surveys by The Nature Conservancy found that an average of 60 percent of corals off the island’s western side bleached, with some reefs experiencing up to 90 percent mortality.

Scientists with the organization have studied the coral reefs for the last three years to identify the most resilient.

Eric Conklin, director of marine science for the organization's Hawaii program, says many of the reefs in the area have stabilized, indicating the "first step toward recovery."

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