Mar 29, 2016

Coral Bleaching Taskforce documents most severe bleaching on record

Cairns QLD
Papua New Guinea
Australia
by
Terry Hughes
,
ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Extensive coral bleaching (white/yellow patches) documented on the Great Barrier Reef during aerial surveys in March 2016. Photo: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Extensive coral bleaching (white/yellow patches) documented on the Great Barrier Reef during aerial surveys in March 2016. Photo: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Aerial surveys of more than 500 coral reefs from Cairns to Papua New Guinea reveal that the most pristine section of the Great Barrier Reef is currently experiencing the worst, mass bleaching event in its history, with the overwhelming majority of reefs being ranked in the most severe bleaching category.

“This has been the saddest research trip of my life,” says Prof. Terry Hughes, convenor of the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce. “Almost without exception, every reef we flew across showed consistently high levels of bleaching, from the reef slope right up onto the top of the reef. We flew for 4000km in the most pristine parts of the Great Barrier Reef and saw only four reefs that had no bleaching. The severity is much greater than in earlier bleaching events in 2002 or 1998"