Warming Has Killed Half The Coral On The Great Barrier Reef: Study

“Bleaching events in back-to-back years so thoroughly wiped out coral that it cannot easily reproduce”

“Half of the coral populations on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef — from “big mamas” to the little baby coral they spawn — have been wiped out in the warming ocean, a new study says.

Studying coral as if it were a residential demographic, and counting its abundance over 30 years starting in 1995, four Australian researchers determined that size didn’t matter when bleaching events, such as two that occurred in recent back-to-back years, strike the giant reef.

“The decline occurred in both shallow and deeper water, and across virtually all species — but especially in branching and table-shaped corals,” Terry Hughes, a professor at the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Queensland and a co-author of the research paper, said in a statement Tuesday. “These were the worst affected by record breaking temperatures that triggered mass bleaching in 2016 and 2017.””

Darryl Fears reports for the Washington Post October 13, 2020.