Published on Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Two-thirds of Great Barrier Reef suffers serious bleaching
The Great Barrier Reef is now in a 'terminal' condition with up to two-thirds suffering from bleaching after a year of record temperatures.
About 1,500km of the 2,300km long reef structure is now bleached according to the latest aerial survey.
Researchers believe in its present state it will need at least a decade to recover.
"It takes at least a decade for a full recovery of even the fastest growing corals, so mass bleaching events 12 months apart offers zero prospect of recovery for reefs that were damaged in 2016" said James Kerry of the James Cook University's ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.
"This is the fourth time the Great Barrier Reef has bleached severely - in 1998, 2002, 2016, and now in 2017," he added.
"The combined impact of this back-to-back bleaching stretches for 1,500 km, leaving only the southern third unscathed," said Terry Hughes, Director of the ARC Centre.
Parts of the reef, some of which had been previously unscathed, were impacted by the recent Cyclone Debbie.
"Clearly the reef is struggling with multiple impacts," Hughes said.
Coral bleaching is caused when corals shed algae and turn white as sea temperatures rise.