Florida's coral reefs face what could be an unprecedented threat from a scorching marine heat wave.
Gulf of Mexico water temperatures are posing a severe risk to Florida's coral reefs, reaching record-breaking temperatures in the 90s Fahrenheit.
Scientists express concern that the heat wave arrives earlier than the peak heat stress typically experienced by corals in August and September.
Coral reefs play a vital role in supporting diverse species and contributing billions of dollars annually to fisheries, tourism, and coastal protection.
Oceans have absorbed much of the additional heat caused by human activities, resulting in coral bleaching and mortality.
Globally, approximately 40% of the planet is experiencing a marine heat wave, with El Niño exacerbating the long-term warming trend.
Efforts to help coral become more resilient are underway, but addressing climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions are crucial for their survival.