It isn’t often that you hear good news about the world’s most vulnerable natural environments – but here’s some. Parts of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef have just recorded their highest levels of coral coverage in over three decades.
The findings were revealed in an annual report by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), which said that the northern and central parts of the Great Barrier Reef currently have the highest amount of coral cover since records began 36 years ago.
Before we all get too complacent, however, it’s worth noting the rest of the AIMS’s report. It explicitly warns that the new coral is really vulnerable, meaning that it could be easily be destroyed by climate change or other disturbances. Plus, while coral recovered in some places, in other areas – namely the southern part of the reef – it declined.
The main threat to the Great Barrier Reef remains coral bleaching, which is what happens when sea temperatures rise and the coral loses its colouring and dies. Before 2016 the AIMS had only recorded two ‘mass bleaching events’, but since then there have been four. Climate change is one of the leading causes of coral bleaching, so we can expect the reef to face more challenges in the years to come.
Coral reefs are sensitive ecosystems: they’re notoriously easy to wipe out and difficult to regenerate. Let’s hope this is a sign of better things to come – and that we might even see a much wider, more permanent regeneration of the Great Barrier Reef.
If you’re interested in finding out more, you can read the full AIMS report for yourself here.
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