The Great Barrier Reef has lost extremely large sections of coral due to bleaching over the past two years, according to a study done by the ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University in Townsville, Australia. The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure on Earth, but that might not last for much longer.
Bleaching refers to the loss of zooxanthellae, the algae that corals use as a food source, due to a rise in water temperature. Two photos, taken two months apart in 2016, show that the bleached coral has been dying at a rapid rate.
The study noted, “On the remote northern Great Barrier Reef, hundreds of individual reefs were severely bleached in 2016 regardless of whether they were zoned as no-entry, no-fishing, or open to fishing, and irrespective of inshore-offshore differences in water quality.”
ARC Director Terry Hughes said, “This one won’t be as bad as 2016, but it could be more comparable to 1998 or 2002 … It’s an open question whether it’s the third- or second-most-severe.”
— ABC News 24 (@ABCNews24) March 16, 2017
Up until recently, the Great Barrier Reef, located off the coast of Queensland, Australia, had never gone through back-to-back bleaching outbreaks.
— Climate Central (@ClimateCentral) March 16, 2017
— Julie M. McCarthy (@JulieMcCarthyJM) March 16, 2017