great barrier reef tagged posts

Great Barrier Reef hit by third major bleaching event in five years

Bleached coral on Australia's Great Barrier Reef near Port Douglas on Feb. 20, 2017.

The Great Barrier Reef is experiencing its most widespread coral bleaching event, according to scientists who say record warm temperatures and warming oceans are threatening its fragile corals. The entire Great Barrier Reef and some of its surrounding areas are facing an unprecedented period of heat stress in what is the third major bleaching event in only the past five years. Heat-induced bleaching can occur periodically, but scientists say climate change is causing the destructive events to happen more frequently, which is particularly troubling because corals don’t have enough time to recover and grow back.

The reef’s last major bleaching event occurred in 2017, and scientists weren’t expecting another one so soon, said Mark Eakin, coordinator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Ad...

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GBR bleaching concerns after hottest month on record

Arial view of Great Barrier Reef

A cyclone in the Coral Sea has helped to ease widespread coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef, an expert said, after the marine park weathered its hottest month of sea temperatures on record.

The BOM forecast a tropical cyclone would form off the north Queensland coast over the weekend, and that severe weather over the central and north Queensland coasts would ease.

“The (sea) temperatures have dropped quite suddenly because of this weather system,” said Professor Terry Hughes from the ARC Centre for Excellence in Coral Reef Studies.

The cooler change comes at a critical time for the health of the reef.

Figures produced by the BOM showed sea surface temperatures in the marine park in February were hotter than in any month since 1900 — and hotter even than during the record bleaching e...

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GBR Could Soon See Third Mass Coral Bleaching in Five Years

Australian scientists and conservationists warned in the Guardian Thursday that the Great Barrier Reef could soon endure a third major coral bleaching event in just five years, highlighting how the human-caused climate crisis is already devastating crucial ecosystems worldwide.

Rising ocean temperatures – largely driven by human activities that produce climate-heating emissions, particularly fossil fuel extraction and use – have caused coral across the globe to bleach and die in recent years. Scientists concluded in 2018 that back-to-back marine heatwaves in 2016 and 2017 left the Great Barrier Reef “forever damaged.”

Bleached coral – which has expelled its main food source and turned white because of stressors such as warm water or pollution – is at greater risk of death but can recover i...

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Corals Got Frisky as Great Barrier Reef Spawns

Over the weekend corals from across the reef mass spawned:

The Great Barrier Reef exploded with life over the weekend thanks to the annual mass coral spawning and early reports suggest it was the biggest event in recent years. The coral spawning, which typically occurs on the Reef in the week following the November full moon, sees coral polyps simultaneously release egg and sperm bundles into the ocean for fertilisation giving rise to millions of next-generation coral babies. Reef Bio Research Manager at Quicksilver Port Douglas, Russel Hore, said coral spawning is a significant event for the reef.

“It is vitally important that it occurs to get genetic diversity across the corals,” he said.

“It also allows for species distribution around the reef, because corals can’t walk around so this is the best way different corals can move around th...

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“Overwhelming” Shifts Over Past Century

Scientists have conducted the longest coral reef survey to date at Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef, confirming fears that large parts of this natural wonder are too damaged to recover within the foreseeable future. In the journal Nature Communications, researchers at Bar-Ilan University in Israel and the University of Queensland in Australia provide an in-depth look at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef over the past 91 years.

The work used data from an aerial photography survey carried out in 1928 by the Great Barrier Reef Committee and the Royal Society of London and compared the findings from expeditions taken in 2004, 2015, and 2019.

Their work suggests that parts of the coral reef have been subjected to major environmental change, on both a local and global level, over the past c...

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Great Barrier Reef hard coral cover close to record lows

Great Barrier Reef

Hard coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef is near record lows in its northern stretch and in decline in the south, surveys by government scientists have found. A report card by the government’s Australian Institute of Marine Science says hard coral cover in the northern region above Cooktown is at 14% – a slight increase on last year but close to the lowest since monitoring began in 1985. A series of “disturbances” – coral bleaching linked to rising water temperatures, crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks and tropical cyclones – have caused hard coral cover to decline to between 10% and 30% across much of the world heritage landmark over the past five years.

Mike Emslie, the institute’s acting head of long-term monitoring, said the report included glimmers of hope: individua...

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Thirty sharks captured on barrier reef and exported to France all died in captivity

Thirty hammerhead sharks captured on the Great Barrier Reef and exported to a French aquarium over an eight-year period have all died in captivity and the Australian government says it knows nothing about it.

The deaths, which are the subject of legal action by Sea Shepherd France, could put a spotlight on the trade of threatened sharks caught in Australian waters because of a federal law that allows them to continue to be commercially fished.

The scalloped hammerheads were at Europe’s biggest aquarium, the Nausicaá aquarium in the French port of Boulogne, near Calais, and were imported in two groups, the first in 2011 and the second in 2018.

The last of the 30 sharks died two weeks ago, but the precise timeline and cause of all of the deaths is unclear.

Nausicaá has told E...

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Scientists To Restore The Great Barrier Reef Using Electricity

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia

An environmental group is planning on using electricity to restore the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, which is known to be affected by climate change. The electricity is expected to speed up coral growth, preventing the coral bleaching caused by warming ocean temperatures.

The group is called Reef Ecologic, and it wants to start a trial to see how the technique works on the Great Barrier Reef’s coral, reports New Scientist. The group plans to use steel frames to contain the electricity and simulate coral growth. The process of “regrowing” coral is incredibly slow and could take decades to restore naturally, so the new approach using electricity speeds up the process.

This is not a new idea...

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Starfish-culling robot is set to save GBR Coral

Crown-of-thorns starfish are having a devastating impact on the health of the Great Barrier Reef but a robot drone is set to track and kill them. RangerBot is a hunting machine that uses a hi-tech vision system to track and kill crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS), as well as monitoring reef health indicators like coral bleaching and water quality. The machine has been developed over the past ten years by roboticist Matthew Dunbabin in collaboration with Queensland University of Technology, Google and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

The deadly starfish pose a huge threat to the coral in the Great Barrier Reef. According to a report, published in the journal Nature, COTS outbreaks have a higher impact on reef health than coral bleaching and disease combined...

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Australia Invests $379 Million to Save the Great Barrier Reef

Cuba reefs

Australia has pledged A$500 million ($379 million) in an effort to rescue the ailing Great Barrier Reef in the country’s largest-ever investment in coral reef conservation.

The landmark plan includes funds for improving water quality by reducing pollution from farm fertilizer runoff, and encourage reef restoration by experimenting with laboratory-grown coral that is more durable at higher temperatures, the New YorkTimes reports. The proposal also includes A$58 million ($43.8 million) to stem the spread of crown-of-thorn starfish, a poisonous coral-eating predator.

“We’ll be improving the monitoring of the reef’s health and the measurement of its impacts,” Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said at the plan’s announcement on Sunday...

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