Mass coral bleaching occurring in Great Barrier Reef for 2nd year

Brett Monroe Garner  Greenpeace

'This is the first time the Great Barrier Reef has not had a few years between bleaching events to recover.

This is the second time in a row mass coral bleaching has occurred at the reef.

An aerial survey showed severe bleaching in the middle of the reef, although it may not have had time to recover fully from previous bleaching. "We must address the climate crisis- fuelled by the burning of fossil fuels - that is driving coral bleaching".

Photos and footage taken by marine biologist Brett Monroe Garner at a reef between Port Douglas and Cairns - south of the hardest-hit northern section of the reef past year - indicate severe bleaching of corals he said were "full of colour and life" just months ago.

White corals mean that they are dying. and coral bleaching has been aggressive in Australia and other parts of the globe.

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"To some extent it's not as important whether this event is not quite as bad or worse than last year's, I think what's important is that the climate is changing and that is bringing a much greater frequency of extreme weather events to the Great Barrier Reef".

The GBRMPA will send scientists and experts to survey the remaining length of the reef later this month.

The prospect of widespread damage compounds fears for the survival of coral already stressed by the reef's worst ever bleaching event in 2016, which killed off 22% of coral in one hit. Algae is already beginning to overgrow numerous corals. On some reefs in the north, nearly all the coral died.

Bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, such as warmer sea temperatures, cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour.

This year more bleaching is being observed in this central part of the Reef, which last year escaped widespread severe bleaching.

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Bleaching warnings and alerts over the past 90 days.

"Our legal analysis finds that, under the World Heritage Convention, states with World Heritage-listed coral reefs that are also responsible for substantial historical or current greenhouse gas emissions and with greater financial and technical capacity need to do their fair share to reduce their own emissions, and must ensure they do not authorize or facilitate the development of new sources of emissions or new fossil-fuel extraction infrastructure".

Losing one of the most unbelievable features on the planet is in and of itself a disturbing prospect, but it's also a dollars and cents issue. Reefs also provide protection from storm surge and for crucial fisheries around the globe.

"We are on target to be two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half degrees warmer by the end of the century, which is not a good target for our reefs", he said.

For Baum and other scientists, it really is a race against a competitor that shows no signs of slowing down.

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