80 percent of Ishigaki Island’s coral reefs becoming bleached

80 percent of Ishigaki Island’s coral reefs becoming bleached

Bleached coral reefs filmed by a drone (Photograph provided by the Ishigaki Island Coastal Leisure Safety Council)

October 1, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

On September 11, Ishigaki Island Coastal Leisure Safety Council examined the problem of bleached coral, using a small-sized drone in Yonehara Beach at the north shore of Ishigaki City. The survey revealed that 80 to 90 percent of coral filmed was bleached. Some coral reefs are completely dead. The Council said, “We would like to spread this image and inform the public about the problem.”

At “Sekisei-shoko,” the largest coral lagoon in the country, located between Ishigaki Island and Iriomote Island, coral bleaching caused by sea temperature rise has worsened.

The Council identified a coral reef 500 meters wide at a diving point two kilometers offshore. Most of its coral was bleached, and twenty percent of it had been overgrown by algae. The water temperature was 31 degree Celsius.

A member of the Council Kenji Ohori expressed worry, saying, “Some coral is dead and overgrown by algae. Bleached coral could die at any moment. Most people do not realize the impact of this just hearing about it. By recording and spreading the image, I hope to raise more awareness about the need for conservation among the public, including the public administration.” He plans to disseminate the footage filmed by the drone through the Internet.

(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana) 

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