Great Barrier Reef suffers third mass coral bleaching event in five years

Great Barrier Reef suffers third mass coral bleaching event in five years

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: March 25, 2020 SNIP: The Great Barrier Reef has experienced a third mass coral bleaching event in five years, according to the scientist carrying out aerial surveys over hundreds of individual reefs. With three days of a nine-day survey to go, Prof Terry Hughes told Guardian Australia: “We know this is a mass bleaching event and it’s a severe one.” It follows the worst outbreaks of mass bleaching on record killing about half the shallow water corals on the world’s biggest reef system in 2016 and 2017. Hughes said the first four days of aerial surveys last week covered almost 500 reefs from the Torres Strait to Cairns. They revealed a mixed picture, with some severe bleaching on reefs closer to shore, but outer “ribbon reefs” in the far north escaping damage. He said surveys this week in the central parts of the reef had found extensive bleaching at levels “comparable to 2017”, when it is estimated about 22% of shallow water coral along the reef’s 2300km died. Hughes said about 80 reefs between Tully and Townsville were badly bleached. Both inner and outer reefs were hit. “We could see that some of those corals were big enough that they must have survived the 2017 bleaching and now they re-bleached,” he...
Great Barrier Reef health outlook downgraded to “very poor” due to ocean warming

Great Barrier Reef health outlook downgraded to “very poor” due to ocean warming

SOURCE: CBS News DATE: August 30, 2019 SNIP: The government agency that manages Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has downgraded its outlook for the corals’ condition from “poor” to “very poor” due to warming oceans. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s condition report, which is updated every five years, is the latest bad news for the 133,360-square-mile colorful coral network off the northeast Australian coast as climate change and coral bleaching take their toll. The report issued Friday finds the greatest threat to the reef remains climate change. The other threats are associated with coastal development, land-based water runoff and human activity such as illegal fishing. “Significant global action to address climate change is critical to slowing the deterioration of the reef’s ecosystem and heritage values and supporting recovery,” the report said. “Such actions will complement and greatly increase the effectiveness of local management actions in the Reef and its catchment.” The report is the agency’s third and tracks continuing deterioration since the first in 2009. The deterioration in the reef’s outlook mostly reflects the expanding area of coral killed or damaged by coral bleaching. A study of coral bleaching on the reef, published in the journal Nature in 2017, found 91% of the coral reef had been bleached at least once during three bleaching events of the past two decades, the most serious event occurring in 2016. A fourth major bleaching struck later in 2017 after the Nature study was...
Great Barrier Reef authority gives green light to dump dredging sludge

Great Barrier Reef authority gives green light to dump dredging sludge

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: February 20, 2019 SNIP: The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has approved the dumping of more than 1m tonnes of dredge spoil near the reef, using a loophole in federal laws that were supposed to protect the marine park. Acting on concerns from environmentalists, the federal government banned the disposal of dredge spoil near the reef in 2015. But the ban applied only to capital dredging. Maintenance work at ports – designed to remove sediment from shipping lanes as it accumulates – is not subject to it. On 29 January the marine park authority granted conditional approval for North Queensland Bulk Ports to continue to dump maintenance dredge spoil within the park’s boundaries. The permit was issued just days before extensive flooding hit north and central Queensland, spilling large amounts of sediment into the marine...