Indonesian corals bleached by summer heat

Searing summer temperatures have “devastated” coral off Indonesia’s coast, reports a conservation group Monday.

A Wildlife Conservation Society team reports more than 60% of the Andaman Sea corals off the island of Sumatra have been bleached, a whitening that occurs when the algae supporting the reefs die off.

“This is a tragedy not only for some of the world’s most biodiverse coral reefs, but also for people in the region,” who depend on healthy reefs for fishing, said the society’s Caleb McClennen, in a statement.

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration measures indicate sea water temperatures exceeded an average of 93 degrees Fahrenheit in May, about 7 degrees warmer than normal, in the region.

The discovery may signal that corals across the region have died in the warm summer of 2010. “Similar mass bleaching events in 2010 have now been recorded in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia and many parts of Indonesia,” says the statement.