GREAT BARRIER REEF: Dramatic coral bleaching

Too high sea temperatures lead to the third mass bleaching in five years.


(Press release: WWF, March 2020, photo: istockphoto.com/Placebo365)


The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) has confirmed that the world-famous coral reef is suffering from mass bleaching for the third time in five years. The reef was already affected by mass bleaching in 1998, 2002, 2016 and 2017, in which large parts of the coral reef die. New aerial photographs show that the current bleaching also affects areas that were relatively little affected in 2016 and 2017. So far, the southern part of the coral reef has been spared the worst effects. That is why the reappearance of bleaching is particularly alarming. Richard Leck, Head of WWF Australia's Oceans Division, comments:

“The last two outbreaks occurred more in the north of the coral reef. Only one percent of the southern part was affected at the time. That's why it's so shocking to see the healthy part of the reef fighting for survival.”

Too high sea temperatures are the reason for the mass bleaching.

The temperatures at the sea surface were sometimes at 31 ° C, which is 3 ° C above average. The most common coral species in the Great Barrier Reef are antler coral and table coral. Both are particularly sensitive to the extreme heat conditions. After struggling with the worst forest fires in the country's history, the next ecological disaster follows. "The climate crisis has helped fuel the fires that killed our koalas, and it is literally boiling our corals," said Leck.

"If no action is taken now, it will not only endanger the future of the reef, but also the thousands of jobs in tourism in the regional communities that depend on it."

He urges political action. “The recurring bleaching and forest fires have to persuade the government to finally take action. Because only if something is done now can we limit global warming to 1.5 ° C compared to pre-industrial times. We have to push through the shift towards renewable energies and a carbon-free economy - not just for the sake of ourselves, but also for the Great Barrier Reef ”.

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