Coral bleaching is unlikely to affect reefs in the northern Red Sea as water temperatures rise, according to new research.
While the Gulf of Aqaba (Eilat) is still seeing the rise in temperature that causes coral bleaching and subsequent die-offs else where, scientists from the Hebrew University and Bar-Ilan University say that the corals in that region are resistant, making the area a unique refuge for coral reefs in the warming oceans.
The reason for this is a "warm-water barrier" that exists in Bal el Mandeb in the southern Red Sea, which allows only heat-tolerant genotypes of corals to enter the Red Sea from the Gulf of Aden. The corals that make it through this thermal barrier have to be able to tolerate temperatures of up to 32°C/89.5°F.
Scientists explain that the Gulf of Aqaba is currently at 27°C/81°F and estimate that corals there will be unaffected for at least a century, giving us more time to find ways of resolving the issue.
The area is rich in coral and other marine biodiversity and is one of the world's premier sites for diving.
The report, A Coral Reef Refuge in the Red Sea, is published in the journal Global Change Biology.
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