Corals in marine park in danger

Critical time: Coral bleaching is due to changes in sea temperature and water quality, among other factors..

KOTA KINABALU: Corals at the Tunku Abdul Rahman marine park here are suffering from bleaching due to changes in sea temperature and water quality, among other factors.

Sabah Parks issued an alert and urged park visitors and tourism operators to strictly adhere to the rules and regulations to minimise stress on coral reefs, and to avoid touching the coral at all.

“We regret to inform you that Tunku Abdul Rahman Park is currently experiencing coral bleaching,” said Sabah Parks on its Facebook page.

Coral bleaching occurs when corals, stressed by changes in factors such as temperature, light or nutrients, expel symbiotic algae from their tissues, causing them to turn white and potentially leading to their death if the stress persists, it said.

Sabah Parks also said that prolonged exposure to elevated water temperatures can stress corals while pollution and sedimentation can affect their health.

Overexposure to sunlight with high solar irradiance can damage the symbiotic algae, whereas ocean acidification reduces the availability of carbonate ions needed for coral skeletons.

“To all visitors and tourism players, we ask for your cooperation in adhering strictly to the rules and regulations of the park.

“This is crucial to minimise further stress on coral reefs and help our conservation efforts,” Sabah Parks urged.

Visitors are asked to exercise extra caution near bleaching sites and to refrain from touching or stepping on the coral.

They are also requested to report observations on site as the park management has been collecting data on coral bleaching for the past three months.

“We urge visitors to report any sightings or changes in coral conditions to Your contributions are invaluable to our ongoing efforts to monitor and manage the health of our reefs,” Sabah Parks said.

As the management is closely monitoring the status of coral bleaching within its jurisdiction, the cooperation and adherence to guidelines would help protect these vital marine habitats and contribute to the global understanding of coral ecosystems, it added.

“We appreciate your understanding and cooperation during this critical time. Together, we can contribute to the preservation and recovery of our precious marine environments.”

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