Great Barrier Reef Not Adequately Protected From Coral Bleaching By Australia

A degraded reef in Chagos

For the second consecutive year, Australia's Great Barrier Reef is experiencing mass coral bleaching.

Experts from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority spent six hours on Thursday flying over the Reef between Townsville and Cairns, alongside researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

Photos and footage taken by marine biologist Brett Monroe Garner at a reef between Port Douglas and Cairns - south of the hardest-hit northern section of the reef past year - indicate severe bleaching of corals he said were "full of colour and life" just months ago. The corals then bleach and face increased risks of disease, and those that survive can take years to recover.

"To some extent it's not as important whether this event is not quite as bad or worse than last year's, I think what's important is that the climate is changing and that is bringing a much greater frequency of extreme weather events to the Great Barrier Reef".

This is the first time we've had back-to-back bleaching.

"We have to be reducing the amount of Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and addressing the local stressors so the coral can have the best chance to survive".

"The Palaszczuk Government has committed an additional $100 million over five years to protect the Great Barrier Reef", he said.

The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest collection of coral reefs, with 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 mollusc species, and is the habitat of wildlife such as the dugong - sea cow - and the large green turtle.


But if the water gets too warm or polluted, those algae can be expelled.

Corals have a symbiotic relationship with a tiny marine algae called "zooxanthellae" that live inside and nourish them.

'Just a few months ago, these corals were full of colour and life. Now, everywhere you look is white. Having said that we are the canary in the coal mine for climate change.

The Great Barrier Reef at 134,400 sq miles is the biggest coral reef in the world.

Imogen Zethoven, campaign director of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, said "we are running out of time" to save the reef, particularly from climate change.

The world heritage-list reef was spared an "in danger" listing by Unesco in 2015 but environmental groups argue it remains on the organisation's "watch list".

In 2016, scientists confirmed a coral die-off as a result of a sustained period of bleaching was the worst on record, with more than two-thirds of corals killed in some areas. It requested that Australia deliver an annual report on the reef's health, ensure it meets commitments for greenhouse gas emission reduction as per the Paris Agreement and pledge not to support any development projects that might harm the reef.

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