Great Barrier Reef Not Adequately Protected From Coral Bleaching By Australia

In 2016, scientists confirmed a coral die-off as a result of a sustained period of bleaching was the worst on record, with more than two-thirds of corals killed in some areas. By February, corals were starting to show signs of stress from elevated water temperatures.

The back-to-back bleaching is also an indication that the coral is losing its ability to recover from extreme heat, Neal Cantin from the Australian Institute of Marine Science said in the release. "The plight of these corals - and of the World Heritage sites on which they depend - is growing more dire every year". Also, there is no way to know how many could recover as algae have been overgrowing on numerous corals already.

"As we saw previous year, bleaching and mortality can be highly variable across the 344,000 square kilometre Marine Park - an area bigger than Italy", Wachenfeld stated. The heat causes them to die off or be expelled, leaving behind ghostly white coral skeletons.

The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral ecosystem, located in the Coral Sea in the Australian territory.

WWF-Australia Head of Oceans, Richard Leck, added: "Scientists warned that without sufficient emissions reductions we could expect annual mass bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef by 2050". Now, everywhere you look is white.

Last year's warm water brought coral bleaching events worldwide, which were made worse by the El Niño climate pattern, according to a story published last year in the Guardian. "If this is the new normal, we're in trouble". Its underwater surveys have revealed equally disturbing images of a reef in distress.

"This is the first time the Great Barrier Reef has not had a few years between bleaching events to recover".

"We have on our doorstep the clearest signal that climate change is happening, and that governments aren't moving fast enough to stop it".

"We are working closely with the Commonwealth to ensure we gather all the information required to determine the extent of this latest bleaching event", Mr Miles said.

The Queensland Labor government, which is focused on improving water quality after its bid to pass tree-clearing laws to curb emissions - a key plank of Australia's reef conservation plan - failed, has urged its federal counterpart to price carbon. "Tackling climate change is the only real solution here and that starts by stopping public funding for climate-killing coal projects".

The renowned expert stressed that this should act as a "wake up call" as this indicates back to back coral bleaching events, with only 12 months between them.

  • Tracy Ferguson