How will the Barrier Reef recover from the death of one-third of its northern corals?

How will the Barrier Reef recover from the death of one-third of its northern corals?

Mia Hoogenboom

Senior Lecturer, Marine Biology and Aquaculture, James Cook University

The problems caused by mass bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef have continued to deepen, with the latest estimates based on results from our surveys showing that 35% of corals are now dead or dying along the northern and central sections of the reef north of Townsville.

We have been tracking this severe bleaching event for months, documenting the damage as abnormally high water temperatures caused the coral to bleach, losing the algae that live within their tissues and supply most of the corals’ energy.

Although corals can recover from bleaching when water temperatures drop, they can also die if they are without their algae for too long. From our surveys, we estimate this has now happened to one-third of the corals on reefs north of Townsville and to half of the corals on reefs that were hit hardest by the bleaching event. Read more.