Coral Bleaching: A White Hot Problem

Bleached brain coral (Credit: NOAA)

Bleached brain coral (Credit: NOAA)


Some of the planet’s most beautiful and diverse ecosystems are at risk. With temperatures on the rise, coral reefs are at greater risk for coral bleaching. Using ocean observing system data from NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center, this classroom activity examines ocean temperatures off Puerto Rico to see how coral reefs are being impacted and predict what’s on the horizon. Brought to you by Sea Grant’s Bridge website and COSEE-NOW.

This activity was developed in response to the 2005 massive coral bleaching event in the Caribbean caused by high sea surface temperatures. Using ocean observing system data, water temperatures can be monitored to evaluate the likeliness of other bleaching events.

Via the COSEE-NOW online community, we were able to receive valuable feedback on making the graph of water temperature more user-friendly and expanding the discussion questions to evoke some higher level thinking from students.

This activity has been demonstrated to teachers at the National Marine Educators Association conference and Virginia Sea Grant professional development institutes; and to graduate students in several different settings.

Check out Coral Bleaching: A White Hot Problem available on the Bridge

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