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Scope of Great Barrier Reef's massive coral bleaching alarms scientists

A diver swims past dead Coral as a result of bleaching in off Lizard Island in the Great Barrier Reef in 2016.The Ocean Agency/XL Catlin Seaview Survey

SUBSCRIBEAustralia's Great Barrier Reef is heralded for its biodiversity: The colorful clusters of coral and wisps of islands stretch 1,400 miles, home to white and orange clown fish, the blacktip shark, humpback whales and hundreds of other species.

But those clear blue-green waters are also changing faster than previously thought, according to a new study in the journal Nature , worrying scientists who say the survival of the Great Barrier Reef and other ecosystems like it is crucial for the planet.

At the Great Barrier Reef — considered one of the Earth's largest living structures — about half of the coral died in 2016 and 2017 because of record extreme heat, a result of climate change driven by greenhouse gas emissions, the researchers found.

Loss of coral reef ecosystems should be a major concern to people, even if they live a long way from them, said Nick Graham, a marine ecologist at Lancaster University in England.

In addition to climate change, he blames pollution, including from sunscreen that humans use, agricultural runoff and sewage from resorts for making the waters more toxic.

Keith A. Ellenbogen / APDowns, an Oahu native and the executive director of the environmental lab Haereticus in Virginia, said he supports legislation in Hawaii that would ban sunscreen that contains the chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate as well as enforce greater pesticide control.


  • As coral reefs disappear, some tropical fish might just keep swimmingSalon
  • Global Warming May Have Transformed Coral Reefs – But New Research Says Some ...Brinkwire (press release)
  • 'Trouble in paradise': Why death of world's coral is alarming41 NBC News
  • The Great Barrier Reef is in Danger and This Will Affect Humanity as WellHealth Thoroughfare
  • Scope of Great Barrier Reef's Coral Bleaching Alarms ScientistsNBC Southern California
  • Here Are Some Alternatives to Reef-Damaging SunscreenNational Geographic
  • Coral Reefs are More and More Affected by Global WarmingAdvocator
  • 2016 Ocean Heatwave Killed 30 Percent of the Great Barrier ReefSmithsonian
  • The Great Barrier Reef Is Dying Due to Global Warming, but All Hope Is Not LostChristian Post

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Scope of Great Barrier Reef's massive coral bleaching alarms scientists


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