Great Barrier Reef faces second wave of bleaching

Australia’s greatest natural wonder, the Great Barrier Reef, is experiencing mass coral bleaching for the second consecutive year, a government agency said on Friday. The aerial survey, the first to be conducted in 2017, found “severe bleaching in offshore reefs from north of Ingham to the northern extent of the survey near Cairns,” the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said in a statement. “This year more bleaching is being observed in this central part of the Reef, which last year escaped widespread severe bleaching,” it said. Experts from the authority spent six hours flying over the region between Townsville and Cairns alongside researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science.
The recurrence of widespread coral bleaching in back-to-back summers meant there was not enough time between last year’s extreme heat event for the corals to fully recover, another scientist said. “We are seeing a decrease in the stress tolerance of these corals,” Neal Cantin from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, said. “Many coral species appear to be more susceptible to bleaching after more than 12 months of sustained above-average ocean temperatures.” — DPA