The highest sea temperatures ever recorded in the Caribbean have caused the first mass die-off of coral in Belize in 3,000 years, and scientists suspect that global warming and the El Niño weather phenomenon are to blame. The high temperatures in 1998 lasted for several months and caused much of the Belizean coral reef to bleach and die, according to a study by American scientists that has been published in the latest issue of the journal Nature. “There is growing concern that global climate change is degrading coral reef ecosystems, with coral mortality increasing as a result of bleaching and emergent diseases. Our results from Belize appear to justify this concern,” said researcher Richard Aronson. Serious coral bleaching has been previously reported in the Pacific and Indian oceans.