Extensive underwater and aerial reports have brought to light some frightening news. Up to 35% of certain parts of the Great Barrier Reef are dead due to bleaching. Another study reports that 93% of the Reef has suffered to some extent from bleaching. Bleaching is what happens when warmer temperatures, or other abnormal conditions, cause coral to expel zooxanthellae, a type of photosynthetic algae. Without these algae, coral turn white, or bleach, and die.
Coral that has survived for hundreds of years have been found to be dying or already dead. Still think that climate change is not man-made? In just the past 18 years, there have been three separate bleaching occurrences, with each getting significantly worse. The hardest hit areas of this year's bleaching were the northern parts of the Great Barrier Reef, were upwards of 50% of the coral there was found to be dying.
The Great Barrier Reef contributes about $6 billion to the Australian economy, and $500 million has been pledged to try to protect the reef after these stunning reports have surfaced. Hopefully, it's not too little, too late.