Experts recently revealed some pretty saddening news: half the corals on Australia’s Great Barrier reef have died over the past 25 years. Scientists warned that climate change is irreversibly destroying the underwater ecosystem.
Climate change is killing the corals
There’s a new study that’s been published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society Journal that found an alarming rate of decline across all sizes of corals since the mid-1990s on the vast reef that lies off the northeastern coast.
Experts found that larger species such as branching and table-shaped corals have been worst affected – it’s been revealed that they almost disappeared from the far northern reaches of the reef.
“They’re typically depleted by (up to) 80 or 90 percent compared to 25 years ago,” report co-author and James Cook University professor Terry Hughes recently said.
He continued and pointed out to the fact that “They make the nooks and crannies that fish and other creatures depend on, so losing big three-dimensional corals changes the broader ecosystem.”
Climate change fuel ocean warming
Aljazeera notes that the reef is at risk of losing the coveted World Heritage Status due to ocean warming – this is obviously fueled by climate change.
It’s extremely important to note the fact that the changes that are taking place in the temperatures of the ocean are stressing healthy corals, and this issue causes them to expel algae that are living in their tissues – this is draining them of their vibrant colors in the process that’s called bleaching.
“A vibrant coral population has millions of small, baby corals, as well as many large ones — the big mamas who produce most of the larvae,” the study’s lead author Andy Dietzel stated.
He continued and explained that “Its resilience is compromised compared to the past because there are fewer babies and fewer large breeding adults.”