Coral bleaching driven by climate change has been recorded as far west as the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, devastating reefs in the region. It comes days after Australian scientists announced that 35% of corals in the northern and central sections of the iconic Great Barrier Reef were dead as a result of bleaching. The Ocean Agency described the extent of bleaching in the Maldives as "truly haunting".

"It's rare to see reefs bleach quite so spectacularly," it said in an e-mail statement. "These were healthy reefs in crystal clear water at the height of an intense bleaching event. The flesh of the corals had turned clear and we were seeing the skeletons of the animals glowing white for as far as the eye could see. It was a beautiful, yet deeply disturbing site."