Coral Bleaching; January 1993; Scientific American Magazine; by Barbara E. Brown and John C. Ogden; 7 Page(s)
Late summer of 1987 seemed typical for that time of year in the Virgin Islands. Huge, flat-bottomed cumulus clouds moved westward on light trade winds. Calm seas were rarely disturbed by squalls sweeping into the northeastern Caribbean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean. The only suggestion that something might be amiss was the water, which, though not systematically measured, seemed unusually warm to people swimming near the shallow coral reefs.
Something atypical had indeed occurred. The normally golden-brown, green, pink and gray corals, sea whips and sponges had become pure white. In some cases, entire reefs were so dazzlingly white that they could be seen from a considerable distance. In other areas, pale corals punctuated the reef surface while unbleached corals of the same species grew as neighbors.