Northern region the most affected
Some recent surveys have shown how the rising temperature of the seawater has led to severe coral bleaching at Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
As a result of the survey findings, the response level of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has been raised to level three (its highest level) in the coral bleaching response programme, indicating severe regional bleaching, with more bleaching-tolerant boulder corals now dramatically pale at more than 10 different sites in several parts of the Reef.
The organisation’s Chairman Dr Russell Reichelt said, “a level three response level means we're stepping up surveys in response to the coral mortality to help us better understand the effects of various pressures on the Reef and help guide management actions”.
Some parts of the Reef have experienced higher coral mortality than others. “The corals in the remote far north of the Reef experienced extremely hot and still conditions this summer, and were effectively bathed in warm water for months, creating heat stress that they could no longer cope with,” said Dr Reichelt.
Besides higher temperatures, other factors threatening the World Heritage Site are the plaque of crown-of-thorns starfish, algal blooms, hurricanes and pollution. The current El Niño phenomenon also poses a significant problem. (See also: Coral reefs in dire threat)
Further Information: www.gbrmpa.gov.au