Great Barrier Reef mass bleaching threatens world heritage icon

Coral bleaching severity survey on Orpheus Island 2017

Coral bleaching severity survey on Orpheus Island 2017 – Photo courtesy ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies Flickr account (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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:

Some Aussies took the time to comment. Microbiologist Professor David Osborn from Melbourne’s RMIT University tweeted:

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:

There was some overseas response on social media. An overseas academic was clearly feeling gutted by the news:

A leading climate and clean energy commentator from Singapore, Assaad Razzouk, shared a video clip:

The inevitable references to the pandemic appeared as well:

There were a few of the usual skeptics questioning the role of climate change, including Reiver:

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:

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