Despite the Great Barrier Reef’s record coral cover, it is still quite susceptible.
According to a survey, coral has rebounded from storms and bleaching episodes to record levels along much of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
Since monitoring began on the reef 36 years ago, the northern and central regions have the most coral cover. However, the southern portion of the reef has a less coral cover.
According to officials, the new coral is especially weak, which means that the gains might be quickly undone by challenges like climate change.
The Australian Institute of Marine Science (Aims) conducts an annual assessment of the condition of the reef using aerial surveys and divers who are slowly towed by boat.
Aims had serious worries going into this year’s study after the confirmation of the fourth mass bleaching in six years in March.
According to CEO Paul Hardisty, “we have not witnessed bleaching occurrences so close together in our 36 years of monitoring the status of the Great Barrier Reef.”
When corals that are under stress from warm water temperatures expel the algae residing inside of them, which gives them colour and vitality, bleaching occurs.
Before 2016, there had only ever been two recorded instances of mass bleaching.
The bleaching incident this year was the first time it happened during a La Nia, a meteorological phenomenon that usually results in colder water temperatures.
According to Dr Hardisty, these most recent findings show that the reef can recover under the right circumstances, but “acute and severe disturbances” are occurring more frequently and lasting longer.
According to Dr Mike Emslie from Aims, much of the new coral growth is from a species called Acropora, which is particularly vulnerable to threats to the reef.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world and has been inscribed as a World Heritage Site for 40 years due to its “enormous scientific and intrinsic importance.”
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, which oversees the reef, claims that climate change has “extremely bad” prospects for the iconic structure.
The scientific and cultural organisation of the UN, Unesco, claims that not enough is being done to conserve the reef.