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Great Barrier Reef faces major coral bleaching crisis

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s most iconic natural wonders, is facing a significant threat as a major coral bleaching event unfolds. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), responsible for monitoring the reef’s health, confirmed the alarming development on Friday. This event is consistent with the patterns of heat stress accumulated over the summer months.

Great Barrier Reef faces major coral bleaching crisis

According to reports from Reuters, GBRMPA described the situation as a “widespread, often called mass, coral bleaching event” occurring across the reef. Chief Scientist Roger Beeden highlighted the need for in-water surveys to accurately assess the extent and severity of the bleaching, particularly in the shallow water areas.

Beeden emphasized that the bleaching event is part of a global trend, with similar occurrences reported on reefs worldwide. Elevated sea surface temperatures, primarily attributed to climate change, are exacerbated by the El Niño phenomenon, resulting in warmer ocean waters. The revelation coincides with a recent warning from the U.S.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) about the imminent onset of a fourth mass coral bleaching event globally. This forecast includes the Great Barrier Reef, raising concerns about the potential loss of vast stretches of tropical reefs. World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia (WWF-Australia) expressed deep concern over the fifth mass bleaching event in just eight years, underscoring the immense pressure climate change is exerting on the reef’s delicate ecosystem.

Richard Leck, Head of Oceans at WWF-Australia, warned of significant coral mortality if temperatures do not decrease swiftly. Coral bleaching occurs when corals expel the colorful algae living in their tissues, causing them to turn white. While corals can survive bleaching events, it can impede their growth and reproduction, threatening the long-term health of the reef ecosystem.

Australia’s efforts to preserve the Great Barrier Reef have been ongoing, driven by its economic and ecological significance. The reef contributes approximately A$6 billion ($4 billion) to the economy and sustains 64,000 jobs. Australia has been lobbying vigorously to prevent the reef from being listed as endangered by UNESCO, as such a designation could jeopardize its heritage status and impact tourism.

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