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SOURCE: The Guardian

DATE: April 1, 2019

SNIP: Researchers have documented what they are describing as the most severe coral bleaching to hit the world’s southern-most reef at Lord Howe Island.

Scientists from Newcastle University, James Cook University and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have spent the past two weeks surveying corals around the island in the far south Pacific Ocean after they were alerted to bleaching in isolated areas.

Bill Leggat, a coral biologist at Newcastle University, said the worst of the bleaching was in shallow water closer to the shoreline.

“It’s quite variable but where it’s severe it is actually quite severe,” he said.

“Some of the sites are looking at 80-90% bleaching going very close inshore.”

The bleaching has occurred over the past summer, with March the peak month of the year for coral bleaching due to warmer ocean temperatures.

While much of Australia’s focus on coral bleaching has been centred on the Great Barrier Reef, it is a worldwide occurrence due to climate change.

“We’re starting to see beaching in sites where wouldn’t have previously expected to see it.”