The Great Barrier Reef is DYING OFF, it’s time for a wake-up call!
Mass coral bleaching hits the Great Barrier Reef for the second year in a row. The Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral system in northeastern Australia, has suffered ANOTHER massive coral bleaching for the second consecutive year, official sources confirmed.
By Ivan Petricevic
According to scientists, aerial surveys have offered experts enough data to confirm another mass coral bleaching event, after last year’s dramatic death rate. The situation is worrying and we aren’t helping at all.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority recently conducted a survey off the coast of Cairns and Townsville in the north of the country, obtaining shocking results.
David Wachenfeld, director of the agency, said that the analysis “unfortunately” confirms that there has been another massive bleaching event in the Great Barrier, a 2,300-km-long ecosystem declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.
The scientist said it is too early to know if it’s devastating effects will be comparable to last year’s event, considered the worst recorded in the history of the Great Barrier, where similar events occurred in 1998 and 2002.
Regrettably, bleaching has killed 22 percent of coral reefs last year, but the damage has been greatest in the 700-kilometer strip that extends north of Port Douglas, where two-thirds of the corals have been razed.
As reported by the Guardian, photos and footage taken by marine biologist Brett Monroe Garner at a reef between Port Douglas and Cairns indicate severe bleaching of corals he said were “full of color and life” little over a month ago.
Coral bleaching, the loss of endosymbiotic organisms that live within coral tissue, was not observed until late in the 20th century, leading many to infer that the process results from human causes. An Australian Institute of Marine Science researcher told Australia’s ABC News that signatures of bleaching were not observed until after severe events in the late 1990s and early 2000s. And the effect of rising temperatures on oceans related to human activity impacts the coral as well.
Photos taken by marine biologist Brett Monroe Garner on the Great Barrier Reef between Port Douglas and Cairns show bleaching of corals he said were ‘full of color’ just months ago. Photograph: Brett Monroe Garner/Greenpeace
“I’ve been photographing this area of the reef for several years now and what we’re seeing is unprecedented.”
“In these photos nearly 100% of the corals are bleaching and who knows how many will recover? Algae is already beginning to overgrow many of the corals. Just a few months ago, these corals were full of color and life. Now, everywhere you look is white. The corals aren’t getting the chance to bounce back from last year’s bleaching event. If this is the new normal, we’re in trouble.”
The back-to-back summers of widespread coral bleaching likely mean that the water temperatures did not become low enough to allow the corral to adequately recovered, Neal Cantin from the Australian Institute of Marine Science said in a statement.
“We are seeing a decrease in the stress tolerance of these corals,” Cantin said. “This is the first time the Great Barrier Reef has not had a few years between bleaching events to recover.”
Corals maintain a special symbiotic relationship with microscopic algae-like organisms called zooxanthallae, which provide their hosts with oxygen and a portion of the organic compounds they produce through photosynthesis. Coral bleaching is a phenomenon that causes coral to lose essential protozoan zooxanthellae that inhabit the reefs. The photosynthetic zooxanthellae, similar to algae, live within the tissues of coral and give the reefs their vibrant coloring.
When subjected to environmental stress, many corals massively eject zooxanthallae, and coral polyps are left without pigmentation appearing almost transparent on the white skeleton—a phenomenon commonly known as bleaching.
Because of these tragic events, the world has already lost almost half of its coral reefs in the last 30 years. Scientists are now struggling to make sure that at least a fraction of these unique ecosystems survive in the coming decades.
The health of the planet – and humanity – depends on that.
The coral colonies keep a quarter of all marine species, produce part of the oxygen we breathe and are natural barriers in the coasts against the force unleashed by storms.
“Anyone out on the water can help protect the Reef by following the zoning rules and responsible reef practices and leaving plant-eating fish to help control seaweed and enable coral larvae to settle and create new colonies,” wrote experts in a statement.