Corals that recover from bleaching still struggle to breed

A marine biologist inspects bleached coral around Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef

DAVID GRAY/AFP via Getty Images

Although coral reefs can recover from bleaching, those subjected to heat stress have a lower reproductive output, researchers have found. This means reefs may take longer to bounce back than previously assumed and are more vulnerable to future stressors.

Bleaching occurs when corals exposed to above-average ocean temperatures expel the symbiotic algae that live inside their tissues. These organisms give them their vibrant colours as well as providing most of their food via photosynthesis. Bleached coral remains…

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