A massive bleaching event in the Caribbean in 2005 resulted in the loss of more than half of what was then the coral population in V.I. waters. In the Virgin Islands, researchers are still assessing the damage from the 2023 summer bleaching event according to the St. Croix Source (read full article here). USVI researchers also said the water temperature in the territory is currently 1.3 degrees Celsius higher than normal for this time of year.

Recently, the International Coral Reef Initiative and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that prolonged, exceptionally warm temperatures have caused the fourth ever global coral bleaching event. This is the fourth global event on record and the second in the last 10 years.

According to reports, mass bleaching of coral reefs has been confirmed in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, basins including parts of Florida and the U.S. Coastline, the Caribbean, Central America, South America, Australia, the South Pacific, the Persian Gulf, coasts of East Africa, as well as Indonesia since early 2023. Experts say as the world’s oceans continue to warm, coral bleaching is becoming more frequent and severe. When these events are sufficiently severe or prolonged, they can cause coral mortality, according to the press release from NOAA. Read the full article here.