According to a survey, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has recovered from storms and bleaching events to record levels. As per officials, though this is great news, the new coral is extremely vulnerable and can quickly tarnish by climate change and other environmental threats. The northern and central parts of the reef have the highest amount of coral cover. This stands true since coral monitoring began, roughly 36 years ago. However, the southern part of the coral cover reef has decreased. The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) scans the reef to check its health, each year. They do so by using divers slowly towed by a boat, as well as aerial surveys.
The fourth mass bleaching was confirmed in March and since then, AIMS had grave concerns, especially ahead of this year’s study. The chief executive of AIMS, Paul Hardisty said, “In our 36 years of monitoring the condition of the Great Barrier Reef we have not seen bleaching events so close together”.
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As per the latest results, the reef cover can recover if suitable conditions persist, but acute and severe disturbances are becoming more frequent and longer at the Great Barrier Reef.
A major threat to the Great Barrier Reef is posed by the damaging waves of tropical cyclones and coral-eating crown-of-thorns- starfish. In fact, much of this new coral growth that belongs to a species called Acropora is exposed to this threat.
Due to its enormous scientific and intrinsic importance, the Great Barrier Reef has been listed on the World Heritage list for 40 years, as one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world. According to UNESCO, the UN’s scientific and cultural body, “not enough” is being done to protect the reef.
If the authorities that manage the Great Barrier Reef, i.e. the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority are to be believed, the outlook for the icon is “very poor” due to climate change.
Though this news comes as a ray of hope for conserving biodiversity, the challenges that lie ahead are significant.
(With inputs from agencies)
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