It seems like the Great Barrier Reef is not dead after all, even if some media sources stated otherwise. Scientists stress that although these rumors are not true, the largest natural marine shelter on Earth is still highly endangered.
This ecosystem is 2,300 km long and consists of more than 600 types of soft and hard coral. In addition, the Great Barrier Reef extends to 300,000 square km and is home to many species of sharks, dolphins, turtles, and other marine creatures.
If this ecosystem is destroyed, most of these species will be unable to adapt in the Australian waters, so they will probably be in danger of becoming extinct.
Based on the statistics, 93 percent of this UNESCO World Heritage has been severely affected by bleaching, a devastating phenomenon that occurs when sudden changes in nutrients or temperature cause the coral to lose its algae coating.
According to Dr. Scott Heron, research co-author from NOOA Coral Reef Watch, bleaching will manifest more violently in the future, especially during summers, thus leading to a quick and tremendous decline in coral reefs.
Bleaching occurs most often during summers because of the high temperatures. As a result, the algae living on the reef detaches and dies. The problem is that these algae are photosynthesizing, meaning that without them, the waters surrounding the northeastern Australian coast will turn into dead zones because they will run out of oxygen.
Along with the Great Barrier Reef’s death, many species of marine creatures will die as well. A 2015 study has revealed that all reefs can recover even after being hit by such a massive bleaching. However, this recovery process is fragile and slow, so it would take a lot of time and would need to be thoroughly monitored by specialists.
According to Lesley Hughes, scientist for Climate Council, if bleaching continues, reefs will no longer be able to recover. This event occurred due to the greenhouse gas emissions and other sources of pollution caused by human excess.
Unfortunately, pollution did not only have a massive impact on the Great Barrier Reef but also on many species of marine mammals, such as the baiji Chinese dolphin which was declared extinct back in 2006. Also, the finless porpoise and the freshwater dolphin are highly endangered.
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