The ocean temperature around the islands hit 84.5 degrees Fahrenheit
about a week ago, higher than the average last year when some coral
reefs suffered "bleaching." But the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration has reduced its "warning" about bleaching to a "watch", according to the Virgin Islands Daily News . "We don’t expect anything further to happen," said Al Strong,
a scientist for NOAA. The "watch" will expire when water temperatures
fall below 84.2, which is expected early next month, the newspaper
reported. Waters off St. John were almost a degree warmer than the
Strong estimated that last year, 40 percent of reefs
in some sites died. A biologist for the US Geological Survey said the problem has not gone away. "The losses are continuing, and this is not just a bleaching story," explained Erinn Muller.
"It’s bleaching followed by disease," which kills reefs and eliminates
habitat for fish and other marine life as well as attractions for
snorkelers and divers. Here’s an analysis of the reasons why coral reefs are deteriorating.