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Mass Coral Bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef

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One third of the Northern Great Barrier Reef dead...

The iconic Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest reef as well as one of the most breathtaking seven wonders of the natural world.

The reef system is the Earth’s largest single structure made by living organisms and can be seen from outer space.

The reef is also home to a profusion of marine wildlife and encompasses over 3000 individual reef systems and coral cays.

Unfortunately more than one-third of the coral reefs in the northern and central regions have died due to mass coral bleaching.

“We found on average, that 35% of the corals are now dead or dying on 84 reefs that we surveyed along the northern and central sections of the Great Barrier Reef, between Townsville and Papua New Guinea,” says Terry Hughes, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

So what exactly is coral bleaching and how is it killing one of Australia’s most beautiful attractions?

Coral bleaching happens when environmental conditions change, such as a rise in sea temperatures. This results in corals exorcising small photosynthetic algae otherwise known as zooxanthellae.

The term ‘bleaching’ comes into place when the coral loses the zooxanthellae and turns white.

If the water reverts back to its previous temperature and the photosynthetic algae are able to recolonise the coral, there is a chance of recovery. If the abnormal environmental conditions persist however, the coral will die.

Coral in the southern part of the reef was subject to coral bleaching, however 95% per cent of the reef had the natural capacity to survive and convalesce.

The number one threat to the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef is climate change and global warming.

Advocates of the historic site urge the Australian Government to reconsider their decision to approve the new coal mines in Queensland and keep our reef alive and beautiful.

The Great Barrier Reef is largest coral reef system on the planet. As well as it being a popular tourist attraction, generating $3 billion per year it is also an important part of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders spirituality and culture.


Image Mirage Whitsundays