Threat to nature
Top image: Picture from globalcoralbleaching.org
Scientists have warned that the Great Barrier Reef is at “terminal stage” following a serious of severe bleaching events, a phenomenon caused by global warming, damaging two-thirds of Australia’s underwater phenomenon.
The bleaching is caused by the death of living organisms and seaweeds inside the coral reef and it can be triggered by minor variations of environmental conditions, such as an increase in the ocean’s temperature. When corals are under stress they drive out the algae known as zooxanthellae that provide them both with their rich colours and food, thus turning them white.
“We are seeing these events occur so close together, due to global warming, that coral does not have time to recover,” said Professor Hughes, the director of the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (via New York Times). “Some of the large, 50- to 100-year-old corals we saw on the very northern parts of the reef are now dead. We won’t see them there again.”
Source: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the principal touristic attraction in Australia, producing five million Australian dollars every year, its also a UNESCO World Heritage site, since 1981.
This year The Great Barrier is facing its second consecutive mass bleaching event and the fourth one in its history. As reported by USA TODAY, Marine Park Authority Director of Reef Recovery Dr. David Wachenfeld said that ”mass bleaching is occurring on the Great Barrier Reef for the second consecutive year and as we saw last year bleaching and mortality can be highly variable across the 344,000 square kilometre Marine Park, an area bigger than Italy.”
The Australian government has tried to face and prevent the threats facing the site with its Reef 2050 plan, restricting port development, dredging and agricultural runoff, among other risks but, unfortunately, these preventions have not been able to prevent the effects of global warming.