7 Sep 2017

Fresh warning about Pacific coral bleaching

12:21 pm on 7 September 2017

French researchers studying Pacific coral reefs have warned that limits proposed in the Paris Agreement won't be enough to save them.

Staghorn corals killed by coral bleaching on Bourke Reef, on the Northern Great Barrier Reef, November 2016.

Staghorn corals killed by coral bleaching on Bourke Reef, on the Northern Great Barrier Reef, November 2016. Photo: Greg Torda / ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

The Tara Foundation and France's National Center for Scientific Research have found that in some locations up to 90 percent of coral has been bleached.

In a statement, they said Samoa's islands had been severely impacted but also Kiribati and Tuvalu where some coral had died off.

The research mission, which has visited 15 countries, said on the other hand, the reefs in Wallis and Futuna had been largely spared.

It found that the warmer the water has become the more likely reefs get stressed and bleached.

Reefs account for 0.2 percent of the ocean's area but host about 30 percent of the sea's biodiversity.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs