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“Along 1,000km stretch of the Great Barrier Reef, fears of bleaching emerge”

Scientists are sounding the alarm as they observe a distressing phenomenon unfolding across the Great Barrier Reef. Over a stretch of more than 1,000 kilometers, corals are bleaching white and dying due to rising ocean temperatures. This has prompted urgent action from organizations like the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, who are conducting aerial surveys to assess the situation.

Reports of bleaching have poured in from various parts of the reef, indicating widespread distress. This bleaching occurs when corals lose their vibrant colors and vital nutrients because of high water temperatures, ultimately leading to their demise. This isn’t the first time such an event has occurred; it’s the seventh mass bleaching event linked to global heating, even during typically cooler La Niña years. This underscores the significant threat climate change poses to coral reefs globally, including the world’s largest reef system.

Dr. Maya Srinivasan and her colleagues recently surveyed sites at the Keppel Islands, revealing troubling signs of widespread bleaching. While some corals are still holding on, others are showing signs of decay and being overrun by algae. Despite the grim outlook, there’s still hope for recovery if conditions improve.

Dr. Anne Hoggett from the Australian Museum’s Lizard Island research station shared concerns about escalating bleaching, noting increased coral mortality. Similar distress is observed at Magnetic Island, where Cyclone Kirrily exacerbated the damage, leaving a majority of surviving corals bleached or diseased.

Efforts to mitigate the impact are underway, including experiments to remove seaweed and monitor recovery. However, weather forecasts offer little relief, suggesting ongoing challenges for the reefs.

As scientists gear up for comprehensive surveys to assess the extent of bleaching, preliminary observations highlight the urgency of the situation. While it will take time to fully understand the impact, there’s a clear need for immediate action to protect these crucial ecosystems.

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