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Bleached coral on Lizard Island, Queensland © WWF-Aus / Alexander Vail

Bleached coral on Lizard Island, Queensland © WWF-Aus / Alexander Vail

Scientist reveals bleaching has killed almost 50% of the Great Barrier Reef’s coral

22 May 2017

  • climate change
  • coral
  • coral bleaching
  • great barrier reef

Renowned coral scientist Professor Terry Hughes has revealed an estimate that bleaching has killed about 50% of the Great Barrier Reef’s coral in just two years.

On Saturday night Dr Hughes tweeted “30% of #corals died following bleaching in 2016, another 19% this year”.


Professor Hughes heads the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce which assessed mortality in 2016 and 2017 following unprecedented back-to-back bleaching.

“Australians will be shocked that the nation’s top reef scientist says about 50% of all the Great Barrier Reef’s coral has been killed by bleaching in just two years,” said WWF-Australia Head of Oceans Richard Leck.

“The Reef is a global treasure and on our watch global warming has cooked half the coral,” he said.

It comes as the Reef 2050 Plan Independent Expert Panel has warned that that Australia’s Reef 2050 plan needs a major revision. A communique from the expert panel states: “The Panel considers that action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases must be central to the response”.

“Currently, the Australian Government plan to save the Reef does not include a commitment to reduce greenhouse pollution to a Reef-safe level,” Mr Leck said.

“A decision on whether the Reef is considered by the World Heritage Committee again this year is imminent and Australia must show it is serious about protecting the Reef from all threats,” he said. 


WWF-Australia Media Contact:

Mark Symons, Senior Media Officer, 0400 985 571


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