The Independent reports on the results of early investigations into the condition of coral reefs in the US Virgin Islands after Hurricanes Irma and Maria:
To investigate how vulnerable corals are to hurricanes, and how capable they are of recovering, a team of scientists has been exploring the reefs off the island of St John.
“In shallow waters, what we found certainly lived up to our expectations – holy moly this was bad news,” said expedition leader Dr Peter Edmunds, a biologist at California State University, Northridge.
In some places coral colonies had branches ripped off and “open wounds” in which harmful bacteria and algae were growing.
Elsewhere, entire colonies had been swept away by the storms.
In deeper reefs off St John, the scientists found the picture was “more nuanced”.
There were less immediate signs of devastation, but closer inspection revealed more displaced and damaged corals.