Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest, has experienced “extensive bleaching,” its fourth since 2016, due to above-average ocean temperatures. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the body responsible for reefs, announced this Friday.
Observation flights have indicated a change in coral color in many of the reefs. “This confirms a major bleaching phenomenon, for the fourth time since 2016,” the report says. The agency said that the weather phenomenon of La Niña occurred this year, which led to a decrease in sea water temperatures.
The phenomenon of retrograde death, seen in bleaching, is caused by the rise in water temperature, which in turn is a consequence of climate change. As a result, the symbiotic algae that give color to the corals disappear.
Although bleached corals are under stress, they can recover if conditions improve, says the same source. “The meteorological situation over the next two weeks is critical to determining the extent and severity of coral bleaching in the marine park.”
The study on this large-scale phenomenon of bleaching comes four days after the United Nations began assessing whether the natural monument, designated a World Heritage site, is adequately protected from climate change.
UNESCO is investigating whether the Australian government is taking adequate action against threats to the Great Barrier Reef, in particular climate change. A decision will be made in June whether to classify the reef as “endangered”.
Australia has already launched a multi-billion dollar ‘Reef 2050’ conservation plan. The initiative came after the United Nations in 2015 threatened to put coral reefs on the list of World Heritage sites in danger of extinction.
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