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Ecuador | Coral reefs in Galápagos NP show resiliency to warming

The Galápagos Islands are not widely known for their coral reefs. Most visitors to the islands’ waters seek big charismatic residents like sharks, manta rays, sea lions and whales, or unique creatures like marine iguanas. Dive shops in the Galápagos almost exclusively advertise the opportunity to see these large creatures, while few mention corals. Yet the archipelago is home to vibrant reefs, and we commenced the global Reefscape project there.

Perhaps so little is mentioned about reefs in the Galápagos today because of a history of coral bleaching across the archipelago. The scientific literature reports ocean temperature spikes of up to 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) during the 1982-83 and 1997-98 El Niño events, and again to a much lesser degree in 2015. El Niño’s hot waters pushed many corals beyond their thermal tolerances, resulting in widespread reef-scale bleaching.


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