Mass coral bleaching at Great Barrier Reef

Janie Parker
March 12, 2017

"It's time for us to look at anything and everything to protect the great barrier reef - and there are things that we can do, we can be out there dealing more actively with crown of thorns, put a third boat on and make sure the coral left after a bleaching event isn't being eaten out by crown of thorns".

It's that process that hit 93 percent of the Great Barrier Reef past year, causing almost a quarter of the coral to die off.

An aerial survey showed the effects of climate change have now reached the central part of the reef, which remained relatively untouched in 2016.

"In these photos almost 100 percent of the corals are bleaching, and who knows how many will recover". This followed severe bleaching along the 1,500-mile stretch of reefs a year ago - the worst on record - caused by warm sea temperatures in March and April.

Experts conducted the first flyover of 2017 this week and noticed severe bleaching in the areas of Ingham to the northern extent of the survey near Cairns, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said in a news release.

Australia hasn't done almost enough to protect its most valuable national treasure, the Great Barrier Reef, according to environmental advocates.

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies is also preparing to repeat aerial surveys of previous year to monitor changes, Terry Hughes, the Townsville-based centre's director, said.

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Almost two-thirds of shallow-water corals in a 700-kilometre stretch of the reef's northern section were lost to last year's bleaching event, scientists have said.

It is not fatal to the coral, but instead places stress on the organisms and causes them to fluoresce or glow. "Many coral species appear to be more susceptible to bleaching after more than 12 months of sustained above-average ocean temperatures".

The back-to-back occurrence of widespread bleaching also meant there was insufficient time for corals to fully recover, Neal Cantin from the Australian Institute of Marine Science said.

Bleaching occurs when warm waters prompt coral to expel algae living within their tissues, turning white.

Bleaching warnings and alerts over the past 90 days. But as Yahoo noted, there are many other reefs around the world that are experiencing the same bleaching problem.

Losing one of the most fantastic features on the planet is in and of itself a disturbing prospect, but it's also a dollars and cents issue. Nations with significant carbon dioxide emissions and substantial economic and technical capacity to act have an additional obligation to take serious and effective action to reduce their contributions to climate change, including by not authorizing the construction of new fossil-fuel infrastructure.

"We are on target to be two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half degrees warmer by the end of the century, which is not a good target for our reefs", he said.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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