The Great Barrier Reef in Australia has lost half of its coral in the last 25 years. Along its entire length (1,429 miles over an area of approximately 133,000 square miles) coral bleaching has destroyed the reef. When the ocean water near a reef gets too warm, the corals’ symbiotic algae begin producing toxins, and the corals expel them, turning white – this is coral bleaching. Bleached reefs can recover if the water cools.
“It’s the first time we’ve seen severely bleached reefs along the whole length of the reef, in particular, the coastal reefs,” said Dr. Terence Hughes, the director of the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University. “Those are bleached everywhere.”
The distress and death are an alarm bell of the ravages of the climate crisis. “There is no time to lose,” the researchers said in their statement. “We must sharply decrease greenhouse gas emissions ASAP.”