Great Barrier Reef suffers mass coral bleaching event

Rising sea temperatures have caused “very widespread” damage to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It is the third mass coral bleaching event in five years, authorities said.

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has suffered another mass coral bleaching event that marks its third in five years. The reef is worth an estimated $4 billion a year in tourism revenue for the Australian economy, according to AFP. However, it is at risk of losing its World Heritage status.

Warmer oceans caused by climate change caused an unprecedented two successive years of severe bleaching in 2016 and 2017, which saw the reef’s long-term outlook downgraded to “very poor”, writes AFP.

Some previously untouched areas have now suffered “moderate or severe bleaching”, according to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. The damage was less extensive around Cairns and the Whitsunday Islands.

The latest findings show “the urgent need for reef-safe climate policies”, said Australian Marine Conservation Society campaigner Shani Tager as quoted in AFP’s article.

Image credit: Greg Torda

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