The Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral system, located in northeast Australia, is facing a new massive coral bleaching, the third since 2016, official sources confirmed today.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRPA) reported in a statement today that recent aerial observations of some 344,000 square kilometers reveal bleaching of varying degrees of severity.
“Some southern areas that were not fully or only minimally affected during the 2016 and 2017 bleaching show moderate to severe bleaching,” the government agency said, referring to the impact caused by the intense heat of the southern summer on the Great Barrier Reef. , declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The main cause of this phenomenon is the increase in sea temperature, which causes corals to expel zooxanthallae, microscopic algae that provide them with oxygen and a portion of the organic compounds that they produce through photosynthesis.
Australia, whose government defends the coal industry and has been criticized for its passivity in the face of the climate crisis, has faced in recent months one of its worst droughts, one of the most devastating fire seasons in its history and one of the worst storms strong in several decades, in addition to the current pandemic of COVID-19.
The Marine Park Authority in August downgraded the health status of this ecosystem from “poor” to “very poor”, noting that the government’s plan to improve water quality, which runs until 2050, does not have been fulfilled.
The government adopted this plan, which includes improving water quality, protecting riverine areas from deforestation and stopping dredging, among other measures, to prevent it from being declared a Heritage in Danger.
The Great Barrier Reef, which stretches over some 2,300 kilometers off Australia’s north-east coasts, is home to 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 varieties of mollusks.