The Great Barrier Reef in Danger

Satellite image of the Great Barrier Reef.
Photo Credit: NASA | Wikimedia Commons
The Great Barrier Reef stretches 2,300 km down the eastern coast of Australia. Covering an area the size of Italy it is the largest coral reef on the planet. With over 1500 species of fish, 600 coral species and 30 different whale and dolphin species, it is one of the most biodiverse and complex ecosystems on the planet.

Two weeks ago I wrote about the mass bleaching event that had struck the Great Barrier Reef due to extra warm ocean waters. Now the aerial and underwater survey results are in and it makes for some very sad reading. Only 7% of the reef remains unaffected, in other words, 93% of the reef has suffered damage from the bleaching event. 

We’ve never seen anything like this scale of bleaching before. In the northern Great Barrier Reef, it’s like 10 cyclones have come ashore all at once,” says Professor Terry Hughes, convenor of the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce

Map of the Great Barrier Reef showing results of aerial surveys for 911 reefs.
North of Port Douglas, we’re already measuring an average of close to 50% mortality of bleached corals. At some reefs, the final death toll is likely to exceed 90%. When bleaching is this severe it affects almost all coral species, including old, slow-growing corals that once lost will take decades or longer to return.

A recent study reports that the Great Barrier Reef is losing its resilience to withstand bleaching events under climate change. This happens when seawater temperatures rise by as little as 0.5 °C, exposing corals to major stress.

I highly recommend watching the tv series "Great Barrier Reef", with David Attenborough as narrator, and exploring more about the reef  and the filming of the series on 


Out of the ashes into the fire

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