The Maldives’ oceans are experiencing a temperature rise, leading to coral bleaching, environmentalists have warned.

Algae, which live in corals and give them their bright colors, are expelled when temperatures become too high. As temperatures rise, corals lose their color and turn white.

While authorities had, in mid-March, sounded alarm bells that sharp ocean temperature rises could cause bleaching and coral death, the phenomenon has now been confirmed and verified.

Experts and divers have been posting photos of the phenomenon on social media, warning that corals are whitening at an alarming rate.

Photo: @nixams8/X

Marine biologist Nizam Ibrahim, posting on social media, said this is likely to be the worst such instance since El Niño eight years ago when 73 percent of the Maldives’ corals were facing death.

Four days ago, Nizam published photos of some reefs in the southern portion of Malé (Kaafu) Atoll, documenting dead and dying corals. He said that while temperatures were usually 28 degrees Celsius at a depth of 10 meters during the night, it had now risen to 30 degrees Celsius.

“This is a heartbreaking scene,” Nizam said.

The corals do not die immediately after turning white; once the temperature drops to optimal levels, algae re-penetrates the coral, reviving the dying organisms.

In order to increase the survival rate of corals, it is also important to minimise other factors that cause damage, this includes minimising;

  • Dumping garbage in the sea
  • Polluting ocean waters
  • Dredging and reclamation

The Maldives, notable even on a global scale, undertakes a large share of dredging and reclamation, despite large portions of land reclaimed years ago remaining unused as further dredging projects are carried out in the same areas.

Environmentalists have always warned of the lack of attention successive administrations have paid to environmental concerns.