Researchers from the University of Exeter have found that coral reefs in remote areas of the Indian Ocean are bouncing back quickly from coral bleaching events.
The research paper is titled “Recovery trends of reef carbonate budgets at remote coral atolls six years post-bleaching” and was published in the journal Limnology and Oceanography.
The study results are based on a study of 12 reefs that suffered badly in the 2015/16 coral bleaching events. By 2018, researchers found that the reefs were shrinking, and unfortunately, carbonate production and the coral covers were down by over 70%. In 2021 when the scientists headed back to the reefs, they found that while the speed of recovery varied, all the reefs were on a path to recovery.
Dr. Ines Lange, lead author of the study, stated:
“Such high rates of coral recruitment and the rapid restoration of reef functions are a very nice surprise and imply that this location is showing some resilience, thus far, to ongoing ocean warming. A full recovery of reefs across the Chagos Archipelago over the next few years is likely if the region is spared from reoccurring marine heating events.”
“The study shows that in remote and protected areas without local impacts such as fishing or pollution from land, coral reefs and the important functions they provide are able to recover relatively quickly, even after large-scale disturbances. Proximity to healthy coral populations and the maintenance of a complex reef structure seems to boost recovery speed, which may help to manage reefs under the threat of increasing frequency of bleaching events predicted for the near future.”