In the Wakatobi region of Indonesia, a prolonged period of elevated water temperature in 2016 caused extensive coral bleaching and mortality. Unusually, bleaching was also observed in the bioeroding sponge Cliona aff. viridis, with affected sponges expelling 99% of their Symbiodinium. Bleaching surveys of C. aff. viridis were conducted 6 weeks apart, coinciding with a 0.8 °C drop in water temperature. Over this period, bleaching prevalence dropped from 73.9% (± 9.9 SE) to 25.7% (± 5.8 SE), and bleaching severity dropped from 25.95% (± 4.5 SE) to 11.54% (± 1.9 SE) of sponge tissue. Over the same period, monitored bleached sponges showed an 81% drop in bleaching severity, but also a 13% reduction in overall sponge size. Our results show that while the clionaid–Symbiodinium relationship is susceptible to break down under thermal stress, rapid recovery can occur, although incurring some partial host mortality.
- Climate Change