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Palau reef showing resilience to warming waters

Words by Tess Becker

As climate change raises global sea temperatures, coral bleaching is becoming more frequent and intense. As stories of die-offs pile up, hopeful news is becoming rarer, which is why recent reports from the Pacific are so uplifting. 

A study published in Nature Communications reports that a remote coral reef system in Palau, a Pacific nation of more than 300 islands, has become increasingly tolerant to rising water temperatures.

Palau’s reefs experienced powerful marine heat waves in 1998, 2010, and 2017, yet each successive event led to less coral bleaching, the study found.

Explanations for the reef’s resilience are varied, from hardier coral species to genetic adaptation, but the pace at which the reef is growing accustomed to heat may not keep up with ocean warming. 

“This apparent increase in tolerance that we’ve mentioned in this recent study could be due to a lot of things,” study lead author Liam Lachs, a researcher at Newcastle University in the UK, told Mongabay.

“I think the next big challenge is trying to disentangle what the drivers were and if there are any associated risks, trade-offs, or costs. For instance, losing all of the thermally sensitive species is obviously a big cost because you also lose the ecological function of those species on the reef.”

Even with that in mind, it's still good news to see nature adapting in some way while we try and find a solution to global warming on land. 

Charity check-in 

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.

Four Paws UK. This charity is an animal welfare organisation, working globally to help animals in need. Learn more here.

Wildlife Justice Commission. This international foundation works to end animal trafficking around the globe. Find out more here.

Born Free. This is a wildlife conservation charity that’s passionate about wild animal welfare and Compassionate Conservation. Find out more here.

This article aligns with the UN SDG Life Below Water.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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