The tropical cyclone Debbie, which caused devastation in northeastern Australia and New Zealand, made sufficient damages to one of the few sections of the Great Barrier Reef, which escaped large-scale bleaching. The natural devastation adds to the human and economic toll of Cyclone Debbie, which hit Australian coast and caused death of six people. In bleaching, the corals subjected to high temperatures, throw out of them the living in algae and calcify, which makes them white. If corals are undergoing a slight bleaching, they can recover if temperatures fall. However, scientists said that much of the Great Barrier Reef will probably not recover.
“Unfortunately, the cyclone affected part of the Great Barrier Reef, which until now escaped large-scale bleaching”, said the scientists.
The research of the Australian Council found that this has happened in some southern parts of the reef, where they killed at least part of the coral.
“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 damaged in 2016”, said senior researcher, James Kerry. “The central third this year, I would say, was as severe in terms of bleaching as what we saw as the northern third last year. For those reefs that were hit two years in a row, it is effectively a double whammy. They have had no chance to recover from last year’s events”, added he.
Unprecedented coral bleaching in consecutive years has damaged two-thirds of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, aerial surveys have shown. The bleaching (or loss of algae) affects a 900 nautical miles stretch of the reef, according to scientists. The latest damage is concentrated in the middle section, whereas last year’s bleaching hit mainly the north.
The Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Queensland in northeastern Australia, is the largest living thing on Earth, and even visible from outer space. The 2,300 km-long ecosystem comprises thousands of reefs and hundreds of islands made of over 600 types of hard and soft coral. It’s home to countless species of colourful fish, molluscs and starfish, plus turtles, dolphins and sharks.