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Damaging Great Barrier Reef bleaching makes case for action


Queensland, Australia – Coral bleaching on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef appears to be far worse than originally thought, according to recent research. Severe conditions on the reef heighten awareness on the impact of warming waters and highlight the need for strong climate action.

A survey by Terry Hughes, director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, has found that the reef’s most pristine northern section is 95 per cent bleached.

According to Hughes, huge levels of bleaching have now occurred in the upper 1,000 kilometres of the World Heritage listed reef.
Images of widespread bleached white coral are a clear indication that climate change is devastating the Great Barrier Reef. As a result, WWF-Australia is urging Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to travel to the Great Barrier Reef to see the damage and to seize the opportunity to show government leadership on climate change.

"The Australian Government has said in the past that the reef's World Heritage values are safe. But if there are mass coral deaths from this event, what does that mean for the reef's ongoing World Heritage status?” asked Dermot O’Gorman, CEO of WWF-Australia.

Whether in Australia or elsewhere around the world, governments cannot continue complacency on climate change,” added O’Gorman.

Local action against pollution is also essential to protect the Great Barrier Reef. 

“If we don’t start to see some real leadership on the reef, it will be gone,” O’Gorman said. The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies is located in Australia’s James Cook University.