TOKYO: Bleaching has damaged the world’s northernmost coral reef in Japan, a researcher said on Tuesday, the latest example of a global phenomenon scientists have attributed to high ocean temperatures. About 30 percent of the coral reef off the Coast of Tsushima Island, some 1,000 km (620 miles) southwest of Tokyo, suffered bleaching when Hiroya Yamano’s research team observed the area last December. There was large-scale coral bleaching in Japan’s subtropical Okinawan chain of islands last summer, said Yamano, director of the Center for Environmental Biology and Ecosystem Studies at Japan’s National Institute for Environmental Studies. “Recently coral in Okinawa were taking refuge in waters with lower temperatures, expanding their habitat range to (waters off) Kyushu, Shikoku and Honshu,” he said, referring to three of Japan’s four main islands. Healthy coral reefs protect shores from storms and offer habitats for fish and other marine life, including ecologically and economically important species.