The archipelago of Yaeyama is a group of 11 islands where the stars shine brightly. However, beneath the beautiful appearance of the beaches and the sea of Yaeyama archipelago, there can be observed the effects of the climate changes on Japan’s biggest coral reef.
The increasing water temperature leads to coral bleaching
The beaches of Yaeyama archipelago draw their emerald reflections from the white sand and the transparency of the surrounding seas which makes visible the colorful coral reef. A place whose colors vary with changes in brightness and nuances, from green to turquoise.
The coral reef under the Yaeyama archipelago’s waters lives in a perfect symbiosis with Zooxanthellae, a single-celled algae species.
However, due to the increasing temperature of the water in the past years, the algae has left for cooler waters leaving the coral reef without its vital source of energy.
Thus, the coral reef bleaching has started and now the coral reef will turn white.
Unfortunately, if the water in the Yaeyama archipelago will not cool down, the coral reef will continue bleaching and will eventually collapse.
The first episode of coral bleaching has happened in 1998 and, back then, a big part of the coral reef has collapsed.
Coral bleaching is common around the globe
Once every 3 or 5 years, episodes of coral bleaching are observable in different parts of the world’s oceans. Unfortunately, in the last two years, in 2016 and 2017, more specifically, the coral reef bleaching became more serious and fast-paced due to oceans water’s continuously increasing temperatures.
Yaeyama residents’ only hope is that the coral reef will resist
Mr. Leong, one of the owners of the Diving School Umicoza that operates in the Yaeyama archipelago, stated that when he first came there the coral reef was healthy and astonishing.
Now, Mr. Leong hopes the typhoon will come just to decrease the water’s temperature and bring back the algae which will revive, even though temporary, the coral reef.
Residents of the Yaeyama region, such as Mr. Leong, are just hoping that the Yaeyama coral reef affected by the climate changes will also please the future generations.