Many researchers monitoring the Great Barrier Reef in Australia say that the world’s largest marine ecosystem has suffered the most severe coral die-off in history.
The marine biologists explain that this year’s coral bleaching event has taken its toll on various parts of the Great Barrier Reef, especially in the north. This phenomenon occurs when the waters become warmer.
Based on the estimates, a 430-mile stretch from the northern side of the reef was destroyed by bleaching. Fortunately, the water temperatures in the southern area were lowered by three degrees Celsius thanks to a cyclone.
The scientists added that if it hadn’t been for the cyclone, the Great Barrier Reef would have probably suffered a more devastating coral die-off. According to Professor Terry Hughes from the James Cook University, some northern atolls have completely lost the corals.
Prof. Hughes and his team conducted 900 dive surveys starting from early October and came to the conclusion that the southern part of the Great Barrier Reef lost just one percent of its coral, whereas the middle lost around six percent.
He further adds that the reef looks like it’s in great condition there. On the other hand, he said that the mortality rate is very high in the northern part. Also, the coral weakened even in the places where it survived.
In addition, thousands of Drupella snails were seen feeding on the healthy coral that remained. Based on the statistics, this year’s bleaching is the third massive event that hit the reef, while it also extended along the Queensland’s eastern coast, which has been listed as one of the natural World Heritage Sites.
Fortunately, marine biologists will receive $33.6 million, which they will use to develop efficient strategies to facilitate the recovery of the Great Barrier Reef. They underline that although more than 90 percent of the reef has been affected by coral bleaching, the largest marine ecosystem on the planet still has many chances to recover.
The experts stress that this devastating phenomenon was caused by greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution. Also, large ships sometimes destroy massive chunks of the reef when they drop the anchors. By 2026, the Australian government plans to invest around two billion dollars to save the Great Barrier Reef.
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