Worldwide coral bleaching event enhanced by El Nino


Coral bleaching is a phenomena that results from high ocean temperatures. Coral thrives in a narrow temperature window, unable to grow if the water becomes either too hot or too cold. Sometimes a worldwide or regional weather pattern of particularly high temperatures will cause coral bleaching, where the coral dies as a result, turning white rather than it’s natural color of tan, yellow, brown, or green.

According to this excellent blog post on the subject by Dr. Jeff Masters of Wunderblog, the entire globe (but mostly the Pacific) is currently experiencing an extended coral bleaching event.

The last coral bleaching event we experienced out at Glover’s Reef in Belize where our island is located was in 1998. This high temperature season culminated in Hurricane Mitch, one of the strongest hurricanes to date, that drastically altered our island. It does not appear that the current event is affecting us out at Glover’s Reef in Belize; the ocean temperatures have so far are remaining normal, which is approximately 80 degrees F.

Illegal fishing activity at Glover’s Reef

illegal fishing in Belize

It is a never ending battle to regulate the local fishermen in Belize, and as the fishing stock in Belize continues to decline it has become more of an issue not only for the fishing industry but also for the tourism industry. Belize has many protected areas and Marine Reserves, but the Fisheries Department has chronic financial issues and cannot field enough rangers to effectively control over-fishing. As a result, the fishermen know where they can and can’t get away with poaching, which has reached epidemic proportions in many areas. However, occasionally there is a major bust, which is encouraging. The following article is news about one such bust that recently occurred out at Glover’s Reef, where our island is located.

Coastguard and Fisheries Haul in Illegal Fishermen from Glovers Reef |

New birding website

frigate birds in belize

I communicate with a few other people who own lodges in Belize, people I don’t really know, but I feel like I know them. One of these people is Rob Hirons, owner of a southern Belize lodge called The Lodge at Big Falls. I have visited his place briefly, it is located right on a river down near Punta Gorda. A fabulous place to spend a week or so.

Rob publishes the Toledo Howler, a newsletter promoting southern Belize which I blog about occasionally. I was extremely pleased to receive an email recently announcing his new Belize birding website! This is a super great site where you can hover over the image of the bird and it is easily identified with the movement of your mouse. The photos on the site are images he took himself near his place in southern Belize. I am impressed with the layout of his new website. It is organized around the variety of habitats in their region, and he says he intends to continue adding images. I sent him several bird images I took myself from our island out at Glover’s Reef.

[image by Kris Baird]