What is Coral Bleaching?

Coral reefs are one of the most spectacular ecosystems on Earth. They are built by colonies of tiny animals found in marine waters, and although they cover less than 0.1% of the world’s ocean surface, they are home for more than 25% of all marine species. Unfortunately, coral reefs are becoming susceptible to “bleaching,” which occurs when the symbiotic organisms that live within the coral animal and provide most of their food are expelled, usually as a result of rising water temperatures. This leaves the coral in a sickened state, from which they can die. As the climate warms and ocean waters heat up, coral bleaching is becoming more frequent and the long term affects on coral reefs are unknown. Through the direct observation of coral reefs we can aid scientists in their research – helping to better understand and protect these beautiful and important ecosystems.

What is Bleach Patrol?

Bleach Patrol is a citizen science project to study coral bleaching around the world. It involves collaboration between the World Surf League, the social networking app goFlow, and scientists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. The goal of the project is to use this smart phone app to monitor coral bleaching events as they occur, in real time, by incorporating reports about bleaching and reef health from citizen scientists around the world. By engaging a worldwide community of people to gather data, we aim to improve our understanding of how these magnificent ecosystems are changing now and into the future.

How You Help

  1. Download the free goFlow app
  2. Head out to your local reef and enjoy the ocean! (Suggestions include, but are not limited to – surfing, swimming & snorkeling)
  3. Report your observations about coral bleaching and reef health using goFlow.*

    * Go to the Coral Bleaching category inside the app to share your report

It’s that easy!

The observations you make and the information you collect are sent to the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory’s database. You can learn more about Coral Bleaching here. By working together, we can help protect these vital ocean ecosystems.

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