Coral reefs: Is the Great Barrier Reef being destroyed by global warming? Can it recover?

Usually bright and colourful jewels among the reef, bleaching leaves a stripped-bare skeleton of the coral behind.

Professor Terry Hughes, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, led a team of researchers to assess the extent of coral bleaching across the reef.

Professor Hughes said: “We surveyed 1,036 reefs from the air during the last two weeks in March, to measure the extent and severity of coral bleaching throughout the Barrier Reef region.

“For the first time, severe bleaching has struck all three regions of the Great Barrier Reef – the northern, central and now large parts of the southern sectors.”

Aerial surveys concluded that while some areas of the reef have remained unscathed, large swathes in other regions have been severely bleached, casting ominous doubt over the reef’s future.

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation has described the phenomenon as a “matter of huge concern”.

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