A vibrant aquarium scene featuring various corals, anemones, and a clownfish. The tank is illuminated in shades of blue with hints of fluorescent coral colors.

“Will Hurricanes Save Coral Reefs? Experts Say Yes!”

The upcoming hurricane season could bring relief to stressed coral reefs. Experts suggest that the churning of ocean waters during storms could alleviate the strain caused by bleaching.

Coral conservation specialist, Lorenzo Álvarez Filip, from the Institute of Marine Sciences and Limnology of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, noted a decrease in sea temperature in a monitored area of Puerto Morelos following tropical storm Alberto. The temperature dropped from 30 to nearly 28 degrees Celsius.

Hurricane Beryl, a category two storm, could have a similar effect. These storms draw water from the open sea towards the reef area, cooling the water and reducing stress on the coral. "Historically, the temperature for the month of May should be between 27 and 28 degrees. In May it was already at 30 degrees. The hope is that these storms are controlling the water temperature," Filip said.

Ideally, more storms of similar intensity to Alberto or Beryl would occur, helping to regulate the water temperature without causing significant damage. "If these events that are cooling the water a little come, what one would hopefully avoid is a massive death of corals,” Filip emphasized.

Sea temperature in the Caribbean varies from 26 to 30 degrees Celsius over a year. There are still three months of stress and storms left, but the impact on the reefs depends on the intensity of the storms. Only extremely intense hurricanes can cause severe damage.

RELATED ARTICLES  Atenea Gómez Vows to Boost Isla Mujeres Tourism!

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) predicts 17 to 23 cyclones in the Caribbean Sea by 2024. "Hurricanes, by breaking certain corals can be helping them to propagate. These fragments that remain can get stuck somewhere else on the reef and start to grow. Although one sees that they break, some of those broken pieces can remain alive, and give to another coral," Filip mentioned.

In 2023, the Institute of Marine Sciences and Limnology of Unam, unit Puerto Morelos, recorded sea temperatures reaching 34 degrees Celsius during the hottest days of the year. This led to a mortality rate of up to 90% in the corals closest to the coasts of Quintana Roo, due to the stress caused by the sea temperature. Almost 100% of the corals at greater depths showed signs of bleaching, but these recovered in the winter.