As the world media focuses almost exclusively on the COVID-19 crisis, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has experienced a catastrophic mass bleaching event for the third time in five years. Warmer summer sea temperatures are being blamed for the devastating effects on huge areas of coral.
Severe bleaching has been found on reefs closer to the shore. Although bleached corals do not necessarily die, they can be killed if temperatures remain high. Bleaching also has negative effects on habitats for other sea life.
Needless to say, the latest bad news did not receive the detailed online attention it deserved; however, environmental groups like Greenpeace were keen to highlight the implications and rally climate troops:
With so many of us already suffering, this news is really hard to stomach. The fight against #climatecrisis isn’t going anywhere, and it will need all of us healthy and safe to win. 👊https://t.co/gR8FHVqYKF
— Greenpeace (@Greenpeace) March 27, 2020
Some Aussies took the time to comment. Microbiologist Professor David Osborn from Melbourne’s RMIT University tweeted:
— Professor Mark Osborn (@MicrobialLife) March 25, 2020
Professor Terry Hughes, the Director of ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at Queensland's James Cook University, shared this unique aerial view:
It’s been a shitty, exhausting day on the #GreatBarrierReef.
I feel like an art lover wandering through the Louvre….as it burns to the ground. pic.twitter.com/I0Mx7epLCe
— Terry Hughes (@ProfTerryHughes) March 26, 2020
There was some overseas response on social media. An overseas academic was clearly feeling gutted by the news:
And there is also the most widespread bleaching event in the Great Barrier Reef. Put a fork in us. We're done.https://t.co/gsntNXqJy7
— TedPavlic (@TedPavlic) March 28, 2020
A leading climate and clean energy commentator from Singapore, Assaad Razzouk, shared a video clip:
Meanwhile, #climate threats continue to lurk everywhere: After apocalyptic fires, Australia hit again as Great Barrier Reef suffers 3rd mass bleaching in 5 years, driven by warmer sea temperatures
World Heritage site with “enormous scientific and intrinsic importance” pic.twitter.com/LQYBYr6JOW
— Assaad Razzouk (@AssaadRazzouk) March 27, 2020
The inevitable references to the pandemic appeared as well:
The Great Barrier Reef once again suffered a major bleaching event, I know we are facing an unprecedented global disaster with #Coronavirus but we are also facing certain disaster on the reef we cant just let this slide by.#Auspol
— 💧 Sleeping Giants Oz 📣 (@slpng_giants_oz) March 25, 2020
at the very least we can replace the Great Barrier Reef with sunken mega cruise 🚢 ships!
— katie⁉️hamilton (@katie8491) March 29, 2020
There were a few of the usual skeptics questioning the role of climate change, including Reiver:
It’s cyclical, new reef forms on top of it and that’s how it became the Great Barrier Reef 🙄🤦♂️
— Reiver (@MaluaBayReiver) March 28, 2020
Currently, tourism in Australia is down like much of the economy. Many people worldwide are hoping that visitors will have a chance to see the wonders of the reef when the coronavirus emergency ends:
#ClimateAction Quote of the Day
‘With help, the tourism industry can recover after Covid-19, but only if there is a healthy Great Barrier Reef to visit once this crisis is over.’ Kate Smolski / @KateSmolski
— Allan Margolin (@AllanMargolin) March 27, 2020