Map showing damage to the Great Barrier reef from the marine heat waves of 2016 and 2017. Half of the Great Barrier Reef has been bleached to death since 2016. Graphic: National Geographic

By Lauren E. James
8 August 2018

(National Geographic) – Half of the Great Barrier Reef has been bleached to death since 2016. Mass coral bleaching, a global problem triggered by climate change, occurs when unnaturally hot ocean water destroys a reef’s colorful algae, leaving the coral to starve. The Great Barrier Reef illustrates how extensive the damage can be: Thirty percent of the coral perished in 2016, another 20 percent in 2017. The effect is akin to a forest after a devastating fire. Much of the marine ecosystem along the reef’s north coast has become barren and skeletal with little hope of recovery. [more]

Half of the Great Barrier Reef Is Dead

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