Mass bleaching of Great Barrier Reef leads to damages caused by warmer ocean temperatures
Sydney, March10: In an alarming development, another mass bleaching event on the the Great Barrier Reef has been confirmed due to widespread damages caused by warmer ocean temperatures.
On Thursday, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), which carried out the first survey for 2017 over the area between Cairns and Townsville in Queensland state, declared widespread damage from an underwater heatwave.
The agency’s David Wachenfeld said that had given him enough information to “regrettably” confirm another mass bleaching occurred.
“We also have quite a few reports through our early warning system, the eye on the reef program,” Wachenfeld told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Friday.
Scientists estimated that two-thirds of coral coverage died in a 700 km stretch of the reef north of Port Douglas.
However, Wachenfeld said it was too soon to know how this year’s bleaching event compared to that seen last year.
Surveys over the rest of the reef will be conducted in the next two weeks.
Bleaching occurs when warm waters prompt coral to expel algae living within their tissues, turning white. the Guardian daily reported.
The coral may die in the six to 12 months after bleaching, meaning the level of mortality on the reef will not be determined until later in the year.
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”.
Climate change remains to be the biggest threat to the Great Barrier Reef.