Parts of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia are showing signs of another bleaching event.  As the seas around Australia are becoming warmer the Great Barrier Reef shows more bleaching.  The ocean near Australia has water temperatures that are 2 or 3 degrees above average for February.  

This would be Australia’s third major bleaching bleaching event in five years.  The others were in 2016 and 2017.

One of the worlds still healthy coral reefs.  Unfortunately not many still look like this.  Bleached reefs are almost entirely white and the Great Barrier Reef shows more bleaching.
One of the worlds still healthy coral reefs.

“The news comes on the heels of a new report that says warming ocean temperatures, acidification, and pollution could kill about 70 to 90 percent of all existing coral reefs in the next 20 years. “

Nearly all of the world’s coral could be gone by 2100 according to a study at the University of Hawaii.  

Why is this a big deal?  One reason is that even though coral reefs  only take up .1 percent of the seabed, they support 25 % of marine life. 

One of the worlds still healthy coral reefs.  Unfortunately not many still look like this.  Bleached reefs are almost entirely white and the Great Barrier Reef shows more bleaching.
One of the worlds still healthy coral reefs.

 

The World Wildlife Fund estimates “that about one billion people have some dependence on coral reefs for food and income from fishing. A well-managed square kilometre of coral reef can yield 15 tonnes of seafood per year – or 750 times the world’s per capita fish consumption of about 20 kilogrammes.”

Another reason that coral reefs are important is that they protect many low lying areas from incoming storms.  An article in The Washington Post says that:

“Many countries depend on coral reefs as a key barrier to guard against incoming storms and mitigate the damage done by surging seas. Without healthy reefs, “you lose what is essentially a moving, undersea sea wall,” said Pendleton, who estimated that about 62 million people live less than 33 feet above sea level and less than two miles from a coral reef. “The waves just come into shore full force. That can cause loss of life. It can cause loss of property.””

One of the worlds still healthy coral reefs.  Unfortunately not many still look like this.  Bleached reefs are almost entirely white and the Great Barrier Reef shows more bleaching.
One of the worlds still healthy coral reefs.

And finally, an article from the World Economic Forum says that a healthy ocean depends on Reefs.

Reefs are stunning psychedelic wonderlands that snorkelers and divers love to explore — they’re full of colorful shapes, swaying and branching creatures, and more.

Reefs provide jobs for people in fishing and tourism industries, and they also protect coastal areas from surging seas.

But perhaps more importantly, 25% of fish species spend some part of their life cycle in reefs, despite the fact that they cover less than 1% of the ocean floor.

Losing such an essential part of the ocean environment could therefore have rippling effects that cause much broader collapse.

As Michael Crosby, a marine scientist and the president of Mote Laboratory and Aquarium, told Business Insider for a recent feature on reef restoration, loss of reefs could have potentially terrifying consequences.

“You like to breathe?” Crosby asked. “Estimates are that up to 80% of the oxygen you are breathing in right now comes from the ocean. It doesn’t come from the land. In order for you to continue to breathe, you have to have a healthy ocean.”

One of the worlds still healthy coral reefs.  Unfortunately not many still look like this.  Bleached reefs are almost entirely white and the Great Barrier Reef shows more bleaching.
One of the worlds still healthy coral reefs.

And the world’s reefs are one of the most beautiful parts of our natural world.  Without them we will all be much, much poorer.

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More reading on this subject

Why Coral reefs are important

The deaths of coral reefs could be devastating for millions

What happens if all the coral reefs die

In 2019 one of the major events was the death of more coral

If the oceans die, phytoplankton die, oxygen levels fall, and humans die

One of the worlds still healthy coral reefs.  Unfortunately not many still look like this.  Bleached reefs are almost entirely white and the Great Barrier Reef shows more bleaching.
One of the worlds still healthy coral reefs.
One of the worlds still healthy coral reefs.
One of the worlds still healthy coral reefs.
One of the worlds still healthy coral reefs.
One of the worlds still healthy coral reefs.

Summary: As the seas around Australia are becoming warmer, the Great Barrier Reef shows more bleaching.  The ocean near Australia has water temperatures that are 2 or 3 degrees above average for February.  

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