19 Sep 2002

First outbreak of coral bleaching reported in Marshall Islands

12:20 pm on 19 September 2002

The Marshall Islands Environmental Protection Authority says the first case of coral bleaching has been reported on Jaluit and Majuro atolls.

The authority's general manager, John Bungitak, says a combination of low tides and high surface temperatures was responsible for the outbreak.

However, Dr Silvia Pinca from the College of the Marshall Islands marine science programme says the conditions lasted for only a few days and the coral is expected to recover.

Coral bleaching is a huge problem in Australia where as much as sixty per cent of the Great Barrier Reef has been affected by bleaching.

Dr Pinca has urged ongoing monitoring of corals in the Marshalls to determine the extent of future bleaching.