According to the American scientist monitoring global coral reefs, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef just underwent its third mass bleaching in the past five years. It appears that this is the reef’s most widespread bleaching on record.

This bleaching is extremely concerning since the past two that took place in 2016 and 2017 devastated half of the coral on the Great Barrier Reef.  The experts are warning that this could be a more than devasting blow to the stability of the Great Barrier Reef. Coral reefs are vital to marine ecosystems. Between a quarter and one-third of all marine species depend upon coral reefs during their lifetime. Specifically, the Great Barrier Reef covers nearly 133,000 square miles and supports more than 1,500 species of fish, 411 species of hard corals, and dozens of other species.

Scientists share that the human contribution to the rapid warming of the planet through emissions of gases are the cause of coral bleaching. Experts point to February’s warmer sea temperatures as the final breaking point for this recent loss to the largest coral reef system.

The coordinator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coral Reef Watch, Dr. C. Mark Eakin is extremely concerned about the coral reefs’ future and even questioned, “If it takes decades for a reef to recover … what chance do we have for reefs recovering when events are coming back this fast?” Chief scientist David Wachnfeld echoes these concerning, stating, “We need to take these events as global calls for the strongest possible action in climate change.”

Sources: CNN 3/26/20, BBC 3/26/20

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