CNMI reefs under threat from warming seas

8:40 pm on 17 November 2016

Coral reefs on Saipan in the Northern Marianas are in danger of dying out because of bleaching caused by a warming ocean.

Saipan, CNMI

Saipan, CNMI Photo: Supplied

Environmental experts said just 15 percent of a species called staghorn coral remains in the Saipan lagoon.

Coral bleaching occurs when seawater temperatures get too warm for the corals, causing them to expel the algae that give the corals their color.

February 2016, bleached mature staghorn coral at Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef. It was dead and overgrown by algae by April 2016.

February 2016, bleached mature staghorn coral at Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef. It was dead and overgrown by algae by April 2016. Photo: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Current reports by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say that 2016 is, so far, the second warmest year on record.

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