Great Barrier Reef: The world’s largest coral reef suffers severe mass bleaching

Great Barrier Reef: The world’s largest coral reef suffers severe mass bleaching

THE Australian Marine Conservation Society released alarming footage showing the southern portion of the Great Barrier Reef suffering from deep-sea coral bleaching. After their assessment of two reef wildlife sanctuaries, Dr. Selina Ward, a coral biologist from Queensland, exclaimed her devastation at their latest discovery.

“Well, I feel a bit devastated, to be honest. This bleaching event is the worst I’ve ever seen. So it’s a severe bleaching event that has affected every one of the sites that we’ve visited in these four days,” Dr. Selina Ward Coral biologist, University of Queensland said.

According to Dr. Ward, she has been working on the Great Barrier Reef since 1992, and the diversity of species involved in the latest mass bleaching event was “absolutely heartbreaking.” She said it’s time to reduce emissions and save the world’s largest coral reef system before it’s too late.

“We really are running out of time. We need to reduce our emissions immediately. We cannot expect to save the Great Barrier Reef and to be opening new fossil fuel developments whether they be coal or gas. So it’s really time to act and there are no more excuses,” Dr. Ward said.

Covering 344,000 square kilometers, the Great Barrier Reef is bigger than the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Holland combined.

The iconic World Heritage site provides habitat for nearly 9,000 marine species.

Like any other coral reefs in the world, the Great Barrier Reef is under the threat of climate change and other extreme weather events such as marine heatwaves. This can result in a phenomenon called coral bleaching. This is the time when corals lose their vibrant colors and turn white due to heat stress.

When ocean temperatures are extremely high, it will be hard for corals to recover and they eventually die. This condition poses a severe impact in the ecosystem.

The death of coral reefs represents a huge loss for people and wildlife depending on them- with as much as $375 billion every year.

Mass coral bleaching have been more frequent worldwide due to the climate change, with 200-year-old corals dying in the Great Barrier Reef.

This alarming scenario is not only true in Australia.  Scientists revealed that at least 54 countries and territories have experienced mass bleaching along their reefs since February 2023.


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