Researchers expressed concern over reports claiming Australia's Great Barrier Reef system is "dead"
A recent report entitled “Obituary: Great Barrier Reef (25 Million BC-2016)” has stunned people across the globe. The report claims that the largest coral reef system on Earth, The Great Barrier Reef, is now dead, citing climate change and ocean acidification as the reasons behind its demise.
The Great Barrier Reef of Australia passed away in 2016 after a long illness. It was 25 million years old: https://t.co/TrEXJuTxFJ #RIP pic.twitter.com/7U3wPDPSM2— Outside Magazine (@outsidemagazine) October 12, 2016
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Now, many researchers are claiming that this report is inaccurate and far from being reality. It is a fact that global coral reef systems including Australia’s Great Barrier Reef are not in a great condition and ocean acidification and prolonged bleaching events had damaged them in the worst possible manner. But they cannot be declared dead and can make a comeback under better conditions.
“The message should be that it’s not too late for Australia to life its game and better protect the GBR, not we should all give up because the GBR is supposedly dead.” Terry Hughes, director of ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies told Huffington Post.
Kim Cobb, a professor of Georgia Tech’s School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences also suggests that the article is based on inaccurate facts and does not present the true picture of Australia’s famous coral reef system.
“For those of us in the business of studying and understanding what coral resilience means, the article very much misses the mark…we know from past research that corals are able to recover from the brink of death.” Cobb told Los Angeles Times.
The Great Barrier Reef is located off the coast of Queensland, Australia, stretching across an area of more than 1,400 miles. The system is a home to 625 types of fish and numerous species of jellyfish, sharks, whales and dolphins. But the system itself and its rich biodiversity is struggling to survive in extreme conditions caused by human activities.
Earlier this year, a report revealed that 93% of Great Barrier Reef is affected by severe bleaching. Bleaching is an event triggered by warm temperatures and can cause to expel the algae living in the coral and turn them completely white. But experiencing bleaching does not necessarily mean death. The fact is that the Great Barrier Reef is dying or we can say it is under severe stress, which is very different from being dead. If given time to recover, bleached corals can live and thrive.
Cobb says. “Bleaching events are worrisome because if the coral missies the key food source from the algae for too long it will literally starve to death. But if the water temperature comes back down, it will welcome the algae back. The key is that the water temperature change has to be relatively quick.”