Parts of Great Barrier Reef show highest coral cover seen in 36 years, report finds

Central and northern parts of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef showing the highest coral cover seen in 36 years, showing that the fragile UNESCO World Heritage Site may still be recovering from decades of loss, a monitoring group reported on Thursday. Coral cover in the southern region of the reef has decreased, and the reef is vulnerable to increasingly general disturbances such as large-scale bleaching events, the group said.

The average hard coral cover in the northern region of the reef had increased from 27% in 2022 to 36% in 2022, and the central region increased by 33% in 2022 to 27% in 2021, according to the Australian Institute of Marine Science (ASI). AIIMS) in its annual summary said: report good,

Despite this, AIMS CEO Dr Paul Hardisty said in a statement, “In 2020/21 we lost a third of the gains in coral cover recorded in the South last year.” , “This shows how vulnerable the reef is to persistent, intense and severe disturbances that are occurring more frequently, and are longer lasting.”

AIMS has been monitoring the Great Barrier Reef since 1986. It said the increase in the frequency of mass bleaching events – when coral, in response to stressful conditions such as heat, loses its pigment and symbiotic algae, turns white, and potentially dies – “were unknown.” ” region.”

“In our 36 years of monitoring the state of the Great Barrier Reef, we have never seen bleaching events so closely,” Hardisty said. “Every summer the reef is at risk of temperature stress, bleaching and potential mortality, and our understanding of how ecosystems respond is still evolving.”

Dr Mike Emsley, also from the AIMS monitoring program, said that much of the coral growth in the north and central parts of the reef was driven by fast-moving but fragile Acropora corals, and could therefore be quickly reversed.

“These corals are particularly vulnerable to wave damage, such as those generated by strong winds and tropical cyclones,” Emsley said. “The increasing frequency of rising ocean temperatures and the extent of large-scale bleaching events highlight the significant danger climate change poses to all reefs, especially when outbreaks of crown-thorn starfish and tropical cyclones are also occurring. Future turbulence could reverse the observed recovery. Shorter time.”

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