Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is experiencing its sixth massive bleaching event as climate change has warmed the ocean, raising concerns over whether one of its natural wonders is nearing a tipping point. Reef managers said aerial surveys noticed catastrophic bleaching on 60 percent of the reef’s corals. The discovery is alarming, researchers said, because a cooling La Niña weather pattern in the ocean usually offsets warming that stresses coral and causes them to lose color.
The high ocean temperatures, up to 7 degrees Fahrenheit above average, the high ocean temperatures probably triggered the event. It is the sixth massive bleaching the reef has suffered in two decades and the fourth since 2016. The past bleaching events affected two-thirds of the world’s largest reef. Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Foundation said that the lipase at which bleaching events are now occurring on the Reef is enormous concern.
The researcher also advocates three conservation strategies: protect cool water refuges where coral reefs thrive, work harder to help reefs recover from bleaching events, and stop relying on reefs for fishing and tourism when they are clearly in decline.
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