Oceans

Scientists find a bit more life in coral reefs in Pacific

In this photo provided by Kim Cobb, shows Georgia Tech climate scientist Kim Cobb in November at the remote Pacific island of Kiritimati, finding a bit of hope and life amid what in April was a ghost town of dead coral.

In this photo provided by Kim Cobb, shows Georgia Tech climate scientist Kim Cobb in November at the remote Pacific island of Kiritimati, finding a bit of hope and life amid what in April was a ghost town of dead coral.  (The Associated Press)

In a ghost town of dead coral off a remote Pacific island, scientists have found a bit more life.

In two excursions over the past year, scientists examined the normally stunning coral reefs around the island of Kiritimati and pronounced it mostly a boneyard of dead coral. About 85 percent was dead, 10 percent was sick and bleached, and only 5 percent was doing OK.

The same scientists returned this month and found 6 to 7 percent of the coral is alive and not bleached.

That's according to University of Victoria coral reef scientist Julia Baum, who despite the signs of hope remains wary. She says, "It's like having a patient who is very sick and instead of letting them recover we keep infecting them with more and more illnesses."