Great Barrier Reef: Report finds worst bleaching on record in 2016

Great Barrier Reef: Report finds worst bleaching on record in 2016


According to a latest study increased water temperatures have caused havoc on the Great Barrier Reef, as a result the world bleaching on record occurred in 2016.

According to latest study done by the Australian Research Council Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies which is based at the James Cook University, to the north of the reef more than 67 percent of a 700 kilometer long area of the reef has suffered a loss in shallow water corals, all this has happened in just the past seven to nine months.

Professor Terry Hughes, the study leader said, “Some of the initial mortality was down due to the heat stress, the coral was cooked.”

When bleaching of the coral occurs only a white skeletal appearance of the coral is left as the main source of energy, the zooxanthellae which is a colorful algae gets expelled from the coral and the reef starves gradually. It is this algae that converts sunlight into food for the coral reef.

Less coral reef means that more predators will gather in areas where the coral reef is still surviving, thus putting it under even more pressure and making it hard for it to survive.

Study leader, professor Hughes is confident that high temperatures are responsible for this record bleaching this year, he said, “most of the losses in 2016 have occurred in the northern, most pristine part of the Great Barrier Reef. This region escaped with minor damage in two earlier bleaching events in 1998 and 2002, but this time around it has been badly affected.”

The Lizard Island in Far North Queensland is the area which has been most affected losing more than 90 percent of its coral reef.

There is also a research station on the Lizard Island and scientists from across the world come here to study the marine life. According to one of the directors at this research station, Dr Anne Hoggett, “We had bleaching here in 2002. We thought this was bad at the time, but this has blown it completely out of the water.”

However, she is still hopeful that the Great Barrier Reef can still recover if given a chance, but the rising sea temperatures are an indication that such a chance may not be possible.

She further said, “The trajectory is not good. We keep pumping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and this happened absolutely because of that.”

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