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Coral bleaching, Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef, March 2017 © XL Catlin Seaview Survey

Coral bleaching, Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef, March 2016 © XL Catlin Seaview Survey

National tragedy: 93% of Great Barrier Reef affected by coral bleaching

20 Apr 2016

Keywords
  • climate change
  • dugongs
  • great barrier reef
  • marine species
  • marine turtles
BREAKING NEWS: Australia's National Coral Bleaching Taskforce has today released new information, confirming that 93% of the Great Barrier Reef has been affected by coral bleaching.



Between 60% and 100% of corals are severely bleached on 316 reefs, nearly all them being located in the northern half of the Reef.

North of Port Douglas, scientists are already measuring an average of close to 50% mortality of bleached corals, while on some reefs, the final death toll is likely to exceed 90%.
WWF-Australia spokesperson Nick Heath said the Great Barrier Reef has never seen bleaching at this scale before.
 
"This is a national tragedy," Mr Heath said.

"But it will be even more of a tragedy if our political leaders don’t step up to address unprecedented challenges to the very survival of the Great Barrier Reef.
 
"Global warming is cooking our Reef. Bleaching events and mortality worse than this are the future for the Reef under dangerous climate change.
 
"Coral drained of colour is the face of climate change."

Coral bleaching propels environment into 2016 Federal election spotlight
 
While today's news is a heavy blow for the World Heritage listed Reef, Mr Heath said it can be turned around but with decisive new policies in the upcoming election campaign.
 
"We must transition to 100% renewable electricity by 2035 and achieve Net Zero Carbon Pollution before 2050," Mr Heath said.
 
"We must also give the Reef the clean water it needs to rebuild its coral gardens and be resilient to climate impacts.
 
"That will require a legislated cap on pollution entering Reef waters and a multi-billion dollar fund to fast-track agricultural practices that cut pollution whilst boosting productivity.”

WWF-Australia Media Contact: Mark Symons, Senior Media Officer, 0411 985 571.

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