What Does Coral Bleaching Look Like in Hawaii?

24 Jan, 2020

from CORAL contributor Bruce Carlson

Dr. Bruce Carlson is a former Director, Waikiki Aquarium (1990 – 2002) holding a PhD in ichthyology. He is well-known for his research on fishes, corals, and chambered nautilus.

Dr. Bruce Carlson

Potter’s Angelfish (Centropyge potteri), like other pygmy angelfishes, is always on the move, and it takes time and patience to photograph. Alternatively, you could just set a GoPro camera and tiny tripod on a rock and wait.

This January (2020), my partner Marj Awai and I recorded a single Potter’s Angelfish on the reef in Honaunau Bay, on the west coast of the Island of Hawai’i. The original video is about five minutes long, but I’ve edited it to show just those moments when the angelfish appears. It feeds on algae growing on the rocks.

Watch the video to the end: The last scene shows the devastation to the fields of finger Porites corals killed during severe coral bleaching events the past few years. There are enough living nubs that the coral will likely grow back in a few years, provided there are no more bleaching events, or the corals acclimate to higher seawater temperatures.


Fishbase: Centropyge potteri (Jordan & Metz, 1912)
Russet Angelfish

Distribution: Eastern Central Pacific: Johnston and Hawaiian Islands.
Size: Max length : 10.0 cm TL male/unsexed (4 inches)

Honaunau Bay

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Reef To Rainforest

Reef to Rainforest Media, LLC is the publisher of award-winning magazines and books in the fields of aquarium keeping, aquatics, and marine science. It is the English-language publisher of CORAL Magazine and is based in Shelburne, Vermont, USA.

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