In a heartbreaking update, a new study conducted by marine scientists in Australia has found out that the Great Barrier Reef has lost more than half of its corals since 1995. The decline is mainly owing to the rapid climate change across the globe. By Amitha Ameen
One of the earth’s most precious and largest coral reef system, the Great Barrier Reef, sprawling over 2,300 kilometres, has lost more than half of its coral population in the last 25 years alone. The decline will continue unless drastic measures are taken to mitigate the effects of climate change, the researches said.
“Our results show the ability of the Great Barrier Reef to recover — its resilience — is compromised compared to the past, because there are fewer babies, and fewer large breeding adults,” said lead author of the study, Andy Dietzel (as reported in Baltimore Sun).
Dietzel was part of a marine researchers team at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Queensland, who measure the changes in these coral colonies to better understand the capacity of the corals to breed. The alarming findings made by the scientists were published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
The researchers said that there is no time to lose and that the world must act quickly in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. “We used to think the Great Barrier Reef is protected by its sheer size — but our results show that even the world’s largest and relatively well-protected reef system is increasingly compromised and in decline,” said one of the other researchers, Terence Hughes (as reported in Baltimore Sun).
The Great Barrier Reef took the biggest hits in the years 2016 and 2017, because of the mass bleaching events that occurred during those times. Bleaching is basically when corals expel algae and turn white because of the rising water temperatures, which result in the loss of coral colonies. The common driving force here is rapid and ongoing climate change that is leading to record-setting temperatures.
Australia is one of the world’s largest coal exporters and as the country continues to produce large amounts of carbon emissions, the effects are clearly making a mark on the nation through heat waves, droughts and more recently the forest fires. Coral reefs play an important part in the economy as they contribute billions in tourism and are home to an array of marine life, many of which feed close to a billion people around the world.