The current record-breaking heat wave on the surface of the Caribbean Sea is threatening the coral, the fish that live among them, and the economy that they sustain, according to a recent report.
This year recorded the hottest temperatures in the Caribbean, with regional waters heating up at 90 degrees Fahrenheit. This is more than two degrees Fahrenheit above the average for this time of year.
“Scientists pay close attention to sea surface temperatures because that’s where the water meets the sky. It governs evaporation, which in turn shapes air currents and rainfall,” wrote Umair Irfan in his article for the Vox.
Dominica—which is working to become the world’s first climate-resilient nation and has built thousands of sustainable infrastructure in partnership with its government’s trusted developer, MMC Development Ltd.—is likely to suffer from economic losses if the situation underwater persists.
“The warm waters also have an outsize effect on small island countries like Dominica, which are already front lines of the planet’s biggest environmental threat,” Irfan said. “The scale of the damage from the ongoing oceanic heat wave isn’t yet clear, but events like this in the past have proven devastating for coastal economies and marine wildlife.”
One of the major challenges experts are seeing right now is the stony coral tissue loss disease, an infection on corals that is triggered by the change in water temperature. If left unchecked, it can cause “complete colony mortality in a matter of weeks” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Coral loss may disrupt fishing and also affect the tourism sector of tiny islands like Dominica, which makes up 25 percent of its economy.
There is also the problem with sargassum, a type of algae that is growing in massive blooms in the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean that is toxic and harmful as it rots.
Jamaica has been reported to come up with a way to make use of the harvested algae and turn in into something more useful.
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