Great Barrier Reef Turns Into Coral Graveyard, Scientists Observed

First Posted: Oct 27, 2016 05:30 AM EDT

Scientists discovered the Great Barrier Reef has become a coral graveyard. This means that much of the ecosystem is now dead.

The scientists from Australia's ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies made an examination again and went back to observe the strip of reefs that lie along the stretch of the Great Barrier Reef. In March, they surveyed 83 reefs. Most of the coral reefs were crushed by a period of prolonged heat that turned them into ghostly white. The scientists then expected mass casualties, according to Huffington Post.

The bleaching of the coral reef happens when there is a rise in temperature by as little as 1 degree Celsius or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit. When heat touches the coral, it will then expel colorful algae and will turn it into white. It will recover when the water temperature cools down and if the algae called zooxanthellae recolonize. If not, the coral will die, according to New York Times.

The expectation of the scientists has come to fruition. Gergely Torda, a researcher with the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce said that it confirms what their predictions were for the portion of the reef that would eventually die. He further said that the reef around Lizard Island, which is an epicenter of coral research off Far North Queensland, have no coral left.

The researchers have seen about 50 of the initial 83 reefs at this stage. Most in the healthier and somewhat bleached regions near the middle and lower sectors of the Great barrier. On the other hand, the mortality is high enough that would most likely have disastrous results.

Andrew Hoey, a task force researcher said that in March, they gauged a lot of heavily bleached branching corals that were still alive, but this week they didn't see many survivors. He further said that a lot of the survivors are in poor shape.

Meanwhile, Professor Terry Hughes, the lead author of the study said the Great Barrier Reef must be saved as it supports 70,000 jobs in reef tourism. He further said that large sections of it escaped from the 2016 bleaching and are in good shape. He added that the message should be that it isn't too late for Australia to lift its game and better protect the Great Barrier Reef, not they should all give up because the Great Barrier Reef is supposedly dead.


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