The Great Barrier Reef Witnesses the Highest Coral Deaths This Year
2016 was not a great year, and as it is coming to an end, more and more horrifying news are surfacing as we are summing up the year. In terms of climate too, 2016 was the hottest year and suffered from severe climates. Temperature at the poles reached record highs and glaciers started to melt. Rising sea temperatures has also caused much harm to another oceanic wonder – the Great Barrier Reef.
The statistics were declared by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. The worst affected areas is a 700 kilometer swath in the north of the World Heritage-listed 2300 kilometer chain of reefs or Australia’s northeast coast.
Record Death Tolls in the Northern Parts
The center, which is based at James Cook university in the Queensland state, made dive surveys during October and November. According to those surveys, in the past nine months, 67 percent of the shallow water corals were lost. Fortunately, much lower death tolls were witnessed in the southern parts of the reef.
The Great Barrier Reef also suffered a significant bleaching event earlier this year. Before that, the reef had expanded by 19 percent, but the bleaching event was a massive setback.
The center’s director, Terry Hughes told reporters, “The mortality we’ve measured along the length of the Great Barrier Reef is incredibly patchy. There’s very severe damage in the northern section of the reef. The good news is that south of Port Douglas, including the major tourist areas around Cairns and the Whitsundays (Whitsunday Islands), have had relatively low levels of mortality.”
The Australian government will spend 2 billion Australian dollars (1.6 billion USD) on improving the reef’s health in the coming year. The 2016 die off is significantly worse than that of 1998. Scientists say that the northern region will take at least 10 to 15 years to recover fully.
Politics over Fossil Fuel to Blame, Again
Graeme Kelleher, who headed the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority for 16 years, said last week that Australians must not buy the “political lie” that they can have the reef as well as major coal mines nearby. Kelleher said,
“We’ve lost 50 percent of the coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef in the last 30 years and the main cause of that is the burning of fossil fuel. I sincerely hope UNESCO rejects the claim that the government is doing enough.”