It's almost not surprising anymore to hear that huge swathes of the world's largest living organism have been bleached beyond recognition. The latest bleaching event mirror's last year's catastrophic mass bleaching and though it was anticipated as an effect of February's intense heatwave, it's still bad news for an already beleaguered reef.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority today told the ABC there was enough evidence to confirm another mass bleaching event had taken place, after an aerial survey undertaken yesterday. While early warning was given of the event weeks ago, there is regrettably nothing that can be done to stop a bleaching event from occurring.
The intense heatwave that ravaged eastern and central Australia last week wasn't just bad for our comfort and electricity bills — it's also a death sentence for the already beleaguered Great Barrier Reef.
It's too early to know the extent of the bleaching, and bleached corals can die anywhere from 6 to 12 months after a bleaching event like this. Still, it's clear that the coral can't survive many more of these frequent bleaching events without having time to 'bounce back' in between. Once the coral dies it can become overgrown with competing algae and seaweed, risking destroying the delicate balance of some of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most celebrated ecosystems on Earth — and it's dying. Months of extreme heat have turned thousands of kilometres of pristine habitat into an endless watery graveyard. This year's coral bleaching event comes as a warning.