Posted on

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is recovering from bleaching events but still ‘very vulnerable’: Survey

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is recovering from bleaching events but still 'very vulnerable': Survey

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”.

Watch | WION Climate Tracker | Turtle numbers dwindling because of rising temperatures

 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. 

Also read | Australia’s Great Barrier Reef suffers sixth mass bleaching event

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.

Also read | ​​​​​​​Report sheds light on big brands like Coca Cola and how they ‘greenwash’ their products

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)


You can now write for and be a part of the community. Share your stories and opinions with us here.

Posted on

In ‘one of nature’s greatest events’ a party of over 150 ocean giants, signals hope for vulnerable species

In 'one of nature's greatest events' a party of over 150 ocean giants, signals hope for vulnerable species

In a “thrilling” Antarctic spectacle, for the first time since whaling was banned, dozens of southern fin whales were spotted feasting together. This has been hailed by scientists as a sign of hope for the world’s second-largest animal, second in length only to blue whales. The ocean giants possess a slender body that helps them glide through water at a really high speed. However, even this speed couldn’t help them evade whaling. In the 20th century, they were driven to near-extinction by hunters who systematically shattered populations of whales globally. Their numbers reached an alarming one to two per cent of the original population size. A whaling ban in the 1970s helped rescue the mysterious animal from the brink of nothingness.

Although researchers claim that southern fin whale populations have been slowly increasing following a 1976 whaling ban, there have been only been a few reports of these fascinating creatures in big groups at their traditional feeding areas.

Watch | Non-vegetarians, will you make changes to save Earth?

But scientists and filmmakers were able to record footage of up to 150 southern fin whales in Antarctica, in what Herr called “one of nature’s greatest events.”

Wildlife filmmakers from the BBC captured footage of the fin whales using a drone as they swooped and lunged through the water, launching huge bursts of air as they surfaced. 

Also read | World is undergoing sixth mass extinction and things don’t look good for humans

According to Helena Herr, a researcher at the University of Hamburg and the study’s primary author, “one or two percent of their original population size.”

“We’re talking about a couple of thousand animals left for the whole southern hemisphere area.”

The scientists unofficially dubbed it the “fin whale party” as the massive animals feasted on swirling krill swarms.

Also read | Climate change threatens Emperor penguins; species faces extinction in 30 years

Fin whales were observed in around a hundred groups over two voyages in 2018 and 2019; these groups ranged in size from eight enormous congregations of up to 150 whales to small gatherings of just a few individuals.

Prior to now, feeding groups of whales were only ever observed with a maximum of twelve members.

The authors calculate that there may be close to 8,000 fin whales in the Antarctic region using information from their surveys. Fin whales are presently classified as “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and it is thought that there are 100,000 of them worldwide, with the majority living in the northern hemisphere.

(With inputs from agecies)