Mass bleaching events offer low prospect of recovery for Great Barrier Reef

Mass bleaching events offer zero prospect of recovery for Great Barrier Reef

Mass bleaching events occurred just twelve months apart offer zero prospect of recovery for the Great Barrier Reef in north Queensland, scientists have warned.

The Great Barrier Reef suffered two consecutive massive coral bleaching events, in 2016 and 2017. A team of scientists from the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies conducted aerial surveys of the structure, and found that the bleaching events damaged a 1,500km stretch of the reef.

In other words, nearly two-thirds of the 2,300km Great Barrier Reef suffered serious bleaching caused by warming water temperatures. The duration of the most recent bleaching means it will be very difficult for the coral reef to recover.

James Cook University’s Dr. James Kerry said in a statement, “It takes at least a decade for a full recovery of even the fastest-growing corals, so mass bleaching events 12 months apart offers zero prospect of recovery for reefs that were damaged in 2016.”

The damage caused by the bleaching events has threatened Australia’s lucrative tourism sector that attracts more than 2.8 million tourists annually, generating an estimated A$7 billion in revenue annually.

In recent times, four severe bleaching events occurred in 1998, 2002, 2016 and 2017. But, the most recent marked the first time when scientists observed back-to-back years of mass bleaching events on the popular reef.