The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral ecosystem in the world. The reef contains a large biodiversity with many species of plants and animals in its waters. In recent years, the effects of climate change and human activity have caused the reefs to become damaged and decline. One of the biggest culprits of reef damage is coral bleaching.
…the effects of climate change and human activity
have caused the reefs to become damaged and decline.
Coral bleaching occurs when the temperature of the water rises, which causes the coral to release the algae living in them, the removal of the algae causes the coral to turn white.
However, the Great Barrier Reef is now showing the largest cover of coral for 36 years. The Australian Institute of Marine Sciences have been monitoring the reefs and have concluded that in 87 different areas, the reef has recovered. The recovery has been found to occur at a greater rate in the north and central stretches of the Great Barrier Reef than in the southern stretch. Coverage has been lost in the south due to marine life, such as starfish, eating the hard coral.
Due to this recovery the Australian Government have agreed to stop the development of a coal mine located close to the reef, to prevent any impact it may have had. Tanya Plibersek, Australia’s Environment Minister, claims that sediment from the mining of the coal would have leached into the waters, which would have caused large amounts of damage to the reef.
The world needs to do more to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere as the Great Barrier Reef is still largely at risk from coral bleaching as temperatures rise. Due to climate change, UNESCO has downgraded the World Heritage status of the Great Barrier Reef to ‘in danger’.