Large-amplitude internal waves sustain coral health during thermal stress
Ocean warming is a major threat for coral reefs causing widespread coral bleaching and mortality. Potential refugia are thus crucial for coral survival. Exposure to large-amplitude internal waves (LAIW) mitigated heat stress and ensured coral survival and recovery during and after an extreme heat anomaly. The physiological status of two common corals, Porites lutea and Pocillopora meandrina, was monitored in host and symbiont traits, in response to LAIW-exposure throughout the unprecedented 2010 heat anomaly in the Andaman Sea. LAIW-exposed corals of both species survived and recovered, while LAIW-sheltered corals suffered partial and total mortality in P. lutea and P. meandrina, respectively. LAIW are ubiquitous in the tropics and potentially generate coral refuge areas. As thermal stress to corals is expected to increase in a warming ocean, the mechanisms linking coral bleaching to ocean dynamics will be crucial to predict coral survival on a warming planet.