Second Bleaching Event In Two Years Takes Out Two Thirds of Iconic Australian EcoSystem
According to a new report in the left wing business magazine Forbes, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef may be nearing the end after decades of degradation due to warming waters and industrial pollution. The Great Barrier Reef is a coral ecosystem that stretches approximately 1,400 miles off Australia’s east coast. It is unmatched for its beauty and diversity of marine life. and is (or was) a unique home to thousands of species of marine and bird life. In 2016, the reef was hit by a second bleaching event, a euphemistic term for die off of the coral that forms the reef. That bleaching event took out approximately 1/3 of the reef and overall damaged about 95% of the area.
If you are the kind of person that prefers coal mining and hydrocarbon extraction to natural beauty – no judgement here – there is still the economic impact. Coral reefs in general and the Great Barrier Reef in particular support $7 billion in fisheries and tourism for the Australian economy.
The bleaching die off is caused by rapid warming of the surrounding seas, as temperatures rise above natural levels for coral to grow and live. Bleaching events have increased in frequency and scales since the 1980′s. Pollution run off from agriculture and mining also contributes to the decline.
As photographer Richard Vevers puts it: “I was blown away… I’ve never seen something so beautiful, but it’s dying.”
Consider the Great Barrier Reef as another canary in the coal mine as the ocean ecosystem collapses. The death of coral reefs is happening around the world.