MEXICO CITY – The Cayo Arenas and Triangulos coral reefs in the waters off southeastern Mexico are highly vulnerable to climate change and fishing, environmental watchdog Greenpeace said in a report released on Thursday.
Rising ocean temperatures for prolonged periods cause the reefs to suffer various levels of bleaching, according to the study titled “Conservation Status of the Coral Reefs of the Yucatan Peninsula.”
The Triangulos reef had the highest percentage of bleached coral colonies (38.6 percent), followed by Cayo Arenas (21 percent); both reefs are located off the coast of the southeastern state of Campeche at a distance of 193 kilometers (120 miles) and 169 kilometers, respectively, from the mainland.
“These reefs are very far away. However, we realized that they’re areas susceptible to climate change, which causes bleaching,” Lorenzo Alvarez, a researcher who participated in the study, told EFE.
Conducted on board Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior vessel, the study assessed the condition of the Alacranes, Cayo Arenas and Triangulos reefs in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the reefs of Cozumel and Contoy Island in the Mexican Caribbean.
Of the 15 reefs studied, three were found to be in “critical” condition, two were determined to be in “bad” condition, four were “average,” five were in “good” shape and only one was in “very good’ condition.
The organization warned that colony bleaching can be fatal for corals.
The study also found the reefs of Cozumel and Contoy Island to be affected by overfishing and the high presence of opportunistic species and the proliferation of microalgae, which in abundance are linked to reef degradation.