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.