Does the Adriatic coast still have healthy coral reefs?

Nov 3, 2020

Organisation for Social Education and Environment Protection (SEEP) from Vlora, city located in the large Vlore bay on the Albanian Adriatic cost, performed this summer and autumn marine expeditions in the bay waters. The primary subject of research was the marine life, specifically coral reefs.

Through several expeditions of the scuba SEEP team monitoring the coral reefs populations, an evident change in the appearance was documented, which corals gradually experienced during the summer months and became more visible in September and October. Monitoring began in June when the sea waters were cooler and coral reefs were healthy. As the sea water temperatures started increasing in the summer, there was the gradual loss of color in corals. On the surface of the reefs, bleached spots began to appear, which enlarged and became quite extreme in October. The coral transformation was in parallel with rising water temperatures.

This occurrence, called coral bleaching, is nothing new. It has been reported since the beginning of the 2000s in different parts of the world. By now it reached the proportions of global crisis and without any doubt the main cause is increased water temperatures as a result of climate change.

As for the SEEP team, they found only small amounts of the vital reefs of the Acropora coral population in the extreme part of the Karaburun Peninsula, in the National Marine Park, where the Karaburun coastline is refreshed by the currents. Regarding the rest of the populations, according to an assessment of the degree  of bleaching, assumption is that these changes can be reversed.

The possibility of restoring coral reefs largely depends on the urgent reaction. Which obliges us to address the problem to all decision-makers at all levels, to react as quickly as possible, to save marine biodiversity, before we cross the line of no turning back and to direct development towards a green economy.

The results of this study are accessible to everyone through a short documentary on the social networks (FB, YouTube, Instagram and Linkedln) and SEEP website, which also shows the importance of research to determine the factual situation and the need for urgent reaction. SEEP also drafted an Open Positioning Letter, addressed to decision makers at all levels, based on this study, to take into consideration the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 14 (Life below water) and climate change, which is evident in Albania, and specifically within the waters the Vlora Bay where it has become visible having a strong impact on the marine life.