Tuesday, 27 June, 2017

Great Barrier Reef sees second straight year of bleaching

The Great Barrier Reef is suffering mass bleaching for a second year in a row The Great Barrier Reef is suffering mass bleaching for a second year in a row
Heather Davidson | 12 March, 2017, 00:26

"Fortunately the fully bleached coral is very patchy, we aren't seeing big swathes of it like we did previous year and so far it doesn't look anywhere near as bad". Their efforts include trying to understand why some corals survive in warm water in hopes of breeding them or sharing their secrets with other corals.

"This is the first time we have ever seen bleaching in back-to-back summers", Cantin said, adding that more work is needed to be done to slow down the ramifications of global warning. These coral rely on microscopic algae embedded in their tissue to produce food via photosynthesis. Also, there is no way to know how many could recover as algae have been overgrowing on numerous corals already. About a fifth of the corals died during the event.

The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest collection of coral reefs, with 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 mollusc species, and is the habitat of wildlife such as the dugong - sea cow - and the large green turtle.

More evidence of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef has emerged ahead of surveys that will confirm whether an underwater heatwave has caused widespread damage for an unprecedented second year in a row. This is the result of 12 months of above average sea temperatures across the Reef. "In many areas, people are causing declines in coral reefs because of pollution, overfishing, and habitat destruction", he said.

The bleaching has prompted Terry Hughes, a leading reef scientist at James Cook University who is also with the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce, to embark on a week-long aerial survey of the reef from next Wednesday. 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.

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Bleaching happens when corals get stressed from rising water temperatures; the animals purge their algae and are left completely white. "If this is the new normal, we're in trouble".

Consecutive bleaching events have arrived 30 years early.

"It's vital the world acts to implement the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions", said Marine Park Authority Director of Reef Recovery David Wachenfel in the press release.

'We are extremely concerned moving into the future'.

The Australian and Queensland governments, which are obliged to show how they are jointly managing the reef's long-term conservation, acknowledge climate change is its main threat. "Tackling climate change is the only real solution here and that starts by stopping public funding for climate-killing coal projects".

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