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Australia’s Great Barrier Reef sees largest coral die-off ever

As per a recently conducted study, a mass bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef this year killed more corals than ever before sounding the alarm over the delicate ecosystem. The 2,300-kilometre Great barrier reef in Australia is the world’s biggest.  

Highlights of the study:
  • Most of the losses in 2016 have occurred in the northern, most-pristine part of the Great Barrier Reef.

  • The reef suffered its most severe bleaching in recorded history, due to warming sea temperatures during March and April, with the northern third bearing the brunt.
  •  Environmentalists have called for Australia to abandon coal mining to help prevent further bleaching disasters.
  • Scientists estimate the northern region, which teems with marine life, will take at least 10-15 years to regain lost corals.   
How bleaching occurs?
Bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, such as warmer sea temperatures, cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour.
  • Algae are vital to the coral, which uses the organic products of photosynthesis to help it grow. The loss of algae makes the host vulnerable to disease and means it will eventually die.
Can coral recover?
Yes. Coral can recover if the water temperature drops and the algae are able to recolonise them.

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