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Coral continues to die on the Great Barrier Reef after bleaching

Coral in parts of the Great Barrier Reef is continuing to die due to coral predators and disease six months after rising water temperatures caused extreme bleaching earlier this year. 

Scientists from the Coral Reef Studies in Australia have found that the proportion of live coral has fallen from 40% in March to a mere 5%.

The mass bleaching during the start of the year was the third occurrence of it's kind in the last 18 years, with previous events taking place in 2002 and 1998.

Bleaching is caused by abnormal environmental conditions, such as a rise in sea temperatures, which leads to coral expelling living algae causing it to calcify. In March this year it was revealed that parts of the reef had suffered the worst bleaching on record and experts from James Cook University have expanded on the devastating aftermath.

“Millions of corals in the north of the Great Barrier Reef died quickly from heat stress in March and since then, many more have died more slowly,” said Dr. Greg Torda, whose team recently returned from re-surveying reefs near Lizard Island.

Last year UNESCO voted not to put the Great Barrier Reef on the world danger list but there is now serious concern about its future.

Dr Andrew Hoey, who is currently working from the Lizard Island research station, said: “In March, we measured a lot of heavily bleached branching corals that were still alive, but we didn’t see many survivors this week.”

With the Great Barrier Reef under such significant threat, don't miss our guide to the most incredible places to see before they disappear

Picture courtesy of Krofoto /Shutterstock.com

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