Skip to main content

Widespread Coral Mortality and the 1982–83 El Niño Warming Event

  • Peter W. Glynn (a1)

The massive ‘bleaching’ (loss of zooxanthellae) and death of reef corals that occurred in one area (Gulf of Chiriquí) on the Pacific side of Panamá and in the Galápagos Islands during February—April 1983 continued in these areas until September—October 1983, resulting in a catastrophic disturbance. Similar episodes have been reported subsequently throughout much of the tropical eastern Pacific region (Costa Rica, the entire Pacific coast of Panamá, and Colombia), in the central and western Pacific Ocean, in parts of the western Atlantic Ocean (Caribbean coasts of Costa Rica, Panamá, and Colombia), and in the Florida Keys and Bahama Islands.

Hide All
Barber R.T., Zuta S., Kogelschatz J. & Chavez F. (1983). Temperature and nutrient conditions in the eastern equatorial Pacific, October 1982. Tropical Ocean-Atmosphere Newsletter, 16, pp. 15–7.
Birkeland C. (1977). The importance of rate of biomass accumulation in early successional stages of benthic communities to the survival of coral recruits. Proc. Third Intl Coral Reef Symp., Miami, 1, pp. 1521.
Birkeland C. (1982). Terrestrial runoff as a cause of outbreaks of Acanthaster planci (Echinodermata: Asteroidea). Mar. Biol., 69, pp. 175–85.
Coles S.L. & Jokiel P.L. (1977). Effects of temperature on photosynthesis and respiration in hermatypic corals. Mar. Biol., 43, pp. 209–16.
Coles S.L. & Jokiel P.L. (1978). Synergistic effects of temperature, salinity, and light, on the hermatypic coral Montipora verrucosa. Mar. Biol., 49, pp. 187–95.
Coles S.L., Jokiel P.L. & Lewis C.R. (1976). Thermal tolerance in tropical versus subtropical Pacific reef corals. Pacific Science, 30, pp. 159–66.
Connell J.H. (1978). Diversity in tropical rain-forests and coral reefs. Science, 199, pp. 1302–10.
Dungan M.L., Miller T.E. & Thomson D.A. (1982). Catastrophic decline of a top carnivore in the Gulf of California rocky intertidal zone. Science, 216, pp. 989–91.
Dustan P. (1977). Vitality of reef-coral populations off Key Largo, Florida: recruitment and mortality. Environmental Geology, 2, pp. 51–8.
Egana A.C. & Disalvo L.H. (1982). Mass expulsion of zooxanthellae by Easter Island corals. Pac. Sci., 36(1), pp. 61–3.
Enfield D.B., Smith R.L. & Hayes S.P. (1983). Sea-level variability at the eastern equatorial Pacific boundary in 1982. Tropical Ocean-Atmosphere Newsletter, 21, pp.
Fankboner P.V. & Reid R.G.B. (1981). Mass expulsion of zooxanthellae by heat-stressed reef corals: a source of food for giant clams? Experientia, 37, pp. 251–2.
Glynn P.W. (1968). Mass mortalities of echinoids and other reef-flat organisms coincident with midday, low-water exposures in Puerto Rico. Mar. Biol., 1, pp. 226–43.
Glynn P.W. (1977). Coral growth in upwelling and nonupwelling areas off the Pacific coast of Panamá. J. Mar. Res., 35, pp. 567–85.
Glynn P.W. (1982). Coral communities and their modifications relative to past and prospective Central American seaways. Advances in Marine Biology, 19, pp. 91132.
Glynn P.W. (1983). Extensive ‘bleaching’ and death of reef corals on the Pacific coast of Panamá. Environmental Conservation, 10(2), pp. 149–54, 3 figs.
Glynn P.W. & Wellington G.M. (1983). Corals and Coral Reefs of the Galápagos Islands. University of California Press, Berkeley, California, USA: xvi + 330 pp., illustr.
Glynn P.W., Druffel E.M. & Dunbar R.B. (1983). A dead Central American coral-reef tract: possible link with the Little Ice Age. J. Mar. Res., 41, pp. 605–37.
Glynn P.W., Stewart R.H. & McCosker J.E. (1972). Pacific coral reefs of Panamá: structure, distribution, and predators. Geol. Rundsch., 61, pp. 483519.
Glynn P.W., Howard L.S., Corcoran E. & Freay A.D. (in press). The occurrence and toxicity of herbicides in reefbuilding corals. Marine Pollution Bulletin.
Goreau T.F. (1964). Mass expulsion of zooxanthellae from Jamaican reef communities after Hurricane Flora. Science, 145, pp. 383–6.
Gunter G. (1957). Temperature. Pp. 159–84 in Treatise on Marine Ecology and Paleoecology, I: Ecology (Ed. Hedgpeth J.W.). Mem. Geol. Soc. Amer., 67 Waverly Press, Baltimore, Maryland, USA: viii + 1296 pp., illustr.
Halpern D. (1983). Editor's note. Tropical Ocean-Atmosphere Newsletter, 21, p. 1.
Halpern D., Hayes S.P., Leetmaa A., Hansen D.V. & Philander S.G.H. (1983). Oceanographic observations of the 1982 warming of the tropical eastern Pacific. Science, 221, pp. 1173–75.
Highsmith R.C. (1980). Geographic patterns of coral bioerosion: a productivity hypothesis. J. Exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol., 46, pp. 177–96.
Horel J.D. & Cornejo-Garrido A. (1984). Evolution of meteorological conditions along the northwest coast of South America during 1982–1983. Tropical Ocean-Atmosphere Newsletter, 23, pp. 16–7.
Jaap W.C. (1979). Observations on zooxanthellae expulsion at Middle Sambo Reef, Florida Keys. Bull. Mar. Sci., 29, pp. 414–22.
Johannes R.E. (1975). Pollution and degradation of coral-reef communities. Pp. 1351 in Tropical Marine Pollution (Ed. Wood E.J. Ferguson & Johannes R.E.). (Elsevier Oceanography Series, 12.) Elsevier Scientific Publishing Co., Amsterdam, Netherlands: x + 192 pp., illustr.
Jokiel P. L. (1980). Solar ultraviolet radiation and coral-reef epifauna. Science, 207, pp. 1069–71.
Jokiel P.L. & Coles S.L. (1974). Effects of heated effluent on hermatypic corals at Kahe Point, Oahu. Pacific Science, 28, pp. 118.
Jokiel P.L. & Coles S.L. (1977). Effects of temperature on the mortality and growth of Hawaiian reef corals. Mar. Biol., 43, pp. 201–8.
Kerr R.A. (1983). Fading El Niño broadening scientists’ view. Science, 221, pp. 940–41.
Kinsman D.J.J. (1964). Reef-coral tolerance of high temperatures and salinities. Nature (London), 202, pp. 1280–2.
Knowlton N., Lang J.C., Rooney M.C. & Clifford P. (1981). Evidence for delayed mortality in hurricanedamaged Jamaican staghorn corals. Nature (London), 294, pp. 251–2.
Lasker H.R., Coffroth M.A., Lessios H., Morin J., Peters E. & Shulman M. (1983). Extensive ‘bleaching’ of Caribbean corals in the San Blas Islands, Panamá. Coral Reef Workshop, Amer. Soc. Zool. Meet., Philadelphia (mimeographed account of oral presentation) [not available for checking].
Lessios H.A., Glynn P.W. & Robertson D.R. (1983). Mass mortalities of coral-reef organisms. Science, 222, p. 715.
Loya Y. (1976). Recolonization of Red Sea corals affected by natural catastrophes and man-made perturbations. Ecology, 57, pp. 278–89.
MCDW (19821983). Monthly Climatic Data for the World. World Meteorological Organization, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Washington, DC, USA. [Not available for checking.]
Moore H.B. (1972). Aspects of stress in the tropical marine environment. Advances in Marine Biology, 10, pp. 217–69.
Muscatine L. (1971). Endosymbiosis of Algae and coelenterates. Pp. 179–91 in Experimental Coelenterate Biology (Ed. Lenhoff H.M., Muscatine L. & Davis L.V.). University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: x + 281 pp., illustr.
Pearson R.G. (1981). Recovery and recolonization of coral reefs. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser., 4, pp. 105–22.
Philander S.G.H. (1983). El Niño southern oscillation phenomena. Nature (London), 302, pp. 295301.
Porter J.W. (1972). Patterns of species diversity in Caribbean reef corals. Ecology, 53, pp. 745–8.
Porter J.W., Battey J.F. & Smith G.S. (1982). Perturbation and change in coral-reef communities. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 79, pp. 1678–81.
Rasmusson E.M. & Hall J.M. (1983). El Niño, the great equatorial Pacific Ocean warming event of 1982–1983. Weatherwise, 36, pp. 166–75.
Roberts H.H., Rouse L.J. Jr, Walker N.D. & Hudson J.H. (1982). Cold-water stress in Florida Bay and northern Bahamas: a product of winter cold-air outbreaks. J. Sed. Petrology, 52(1), pp. 145–55.
Rosen B.R. (1971). The distribution of reef-coral genera in the Indian Ocean. Pp. 263–99 in Regional Variation in Indian Ocean Coral Reefs (Ed. Stoddart D.R. & Yonge M.). (Symp. Zool. Soc. Lond., No. 28.) Academic Press, London & New York: xxxvi + 584 pp., illustr.
Shinn E.A. (1966). Coral growth-rate, an environmental indicator. J. Paleontol., 40, pp. 233–40.
Smith R.L. (1983). Peru coastal currents during El Niño: 1976 and 1982. Science, 221, 1397–9.
Taylor D.L. (1973). The cellular interactions of algalinvertebrate symbiosis. Advances in Marine Biology, 11, pp. 144.
Wellington G.M. (1982). Depth zonation of corals in the Gulf of Panamá: control and facilitation by resident reef fishes. Ecol. Monogr., 52, pp. 223–41.
Wooster W.S. (1983). An index of anomalous SST in the eastern equatorial Pacific, 1970–1982. Tropical Ocean-Atmosphere Newsletter, 16, pp. 45.
Wyrtki K. (1983). Sea level in the Equatorial Pacific in 1982. Tropical Ocean—Atmosphere Newsletter. 16. pp. 67.
Yamaguchi M. (1975). Sea-level fluctuations and mass mortalities of reef animals in Guam, Mariana Islands. Micronesica, 11, pp. 227–43.
Yamazato K. (1981). A note on the expulsion of zooxanthellae during summer, 1980, by the Okinawan reef-building corals. Sesoko Mar. Sci. Lab. Tech. Rep., 8, pp. 918.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Environmental Conservation
  • ISSN: 0376-8929
  • EISSN: 1469-4387
  • URL: /core/journals/environmental-conservation
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 99 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 634 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 25th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.