Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Suffers Mass Bleaching Event

Warming sea waters caused the Great Barrier Reef to experience another mass coral bleaching event on Friday.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) reported widespread bleaching over the reef on Friday, with the most severe bleaching noted in northern and central sections.

The serious damage to the world’s largest reef system has been identified for the fourth time in six years.

Bleaching occurs when corals expel the algae within them, which sustain life and give them their distinctive color.

The GBRMPA is also concerned that the mass bleaching is happening in the same year as a La Niña weather event, which usually brings cooler sea temperatures to Australia.

“It is important to note that bleached coral is stressed but still alive. If conditions moderate, bleached corals can recover from this stress, as was the case in 2020 when there was very low coral mortality associated with a mass bleaching event,” the park officials said.

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, stretching over 1,400 miles off the coast of Queensland.

UNESCO scientific advisers suggested last year to include the reef in a list of global heritage monuments that are ‘in danger’ due to rising water temperatures.

However, the Australian Government controversially fought for an exemption. While it has recently allocated funds towards reef-protection measures, critics argue that these are not enough.

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