Snorkeling at Coconut Point ~ American Samoa

Snorkeling is only really possible at high tide if you wish to go very far out, so this was the day we chose.  I am very spoiled to be able to just walk down the driveway and into this beautiful water!  Unfortunately, we are having a coral bleaching episode.  This happens when the water gets too warm…

From Wikipedia:  Coral bleaching is the loss of intracellular endosymbionts (Symbiodinium, also known as zooxanthellae) through either expulsion or loss of algal pigmentation.[1] The corals that form the structure of the great reef ecosystems of tropical seas depend upon a symbiotic relationship with algae-like unicellular flagellate protozoa that are photosynthetic and live within their tissues. Zooxanthellae give coral its coloration, with the specific color depending on the particular clade. Under stress, corals may expel their zooxanthellae, which leads to a lighter or completely white appearance, hence the term “bleached”.

Basically, it gets too warm and the zooxanthellae release to try to find better circumstances.  This causes the coral to lose color or ‘bleach’.  Then other algae move onto the stressed coral.  If the water temperature decreases and there are enough fish to eat the bad algae, the coral can recover.  If not, they die.  It is pretty depressing to see…  The staghorn corals here are the most fragile and a whole lot of them are bleaching now.

The current was pretty strong today, so most of my pictures came out blurry.  I was able to find a few interesting things to show to Heather.  And she spent some time getting startled by a sea turtle, which made her day!

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