Terry Hughes, a professor, and director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, was puzzled at what he saw when he took a quick peek at the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. He expected to see large, healthy reef systems, but he only saw a wide span of bleached white coral.
“It’s very confronting to see the scale of the bleaching, and to know that you’re going to lose a lot of corals on the heavily bleached reefs.”
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s most exceptional reef system, which covers over 344 thousand square kilometers (more than 130 thousand square miles). It suffered a third bleaching phenomenon in the previous five years. The last two bleaching events happened in 2017 and 2016. The earlier one was considered to be the most severe – until now.
The latest bleaching event is considered the most severe over the past five years because it’s the most extensive one.
“We have coastal bleaching this year along the Great Barrier Reef — from the Torres Straits in the north to the southern boundary of the marine park near Bundaberg,” Hughes stated.
Cause Of The Phenomenon
The main reason why the latest bleaching happened is the warming water temperature, provoked by the drastic climate change our planet is going through.
The numbers are grim – Only 40% of the reef is untouched, 35% experienced moderate bleaching, and 25% was severely bleached.
Unfortunately, the southern part of the Great Barrier Reef, which was mostly unaffected during the past phenomenons of 2016 and 2017, was drastically affected by the latest bleaching.
Scientists are working hard to find a solution for reef bleaching, but they fear that the phenomenon is irreversible, which would be terrible news.