Oct 20, 2016

Great Barrier Reef scores D for health for fifth year in a row

Great Barrier Reef, QLD
Australia
by
Michael Slezak
,
The Guardian
Initial estimates show that 22% of the coral along the whole Great Barrier Reef was killed in the bleaching event. Photo: Xl Catlin Seaview Survey/EPA
Initial estimates show that 22% of the coral along the whole Great Barrier Reef was killed in the bleaching event. Photo: Xl Catlin Seaview Survey/EPA

The Great Barrier Reef has been given a D on a report card for its overall health by the federal and Queensland governments for the fifth year in a row.

The results of the annual report card were based on data collected before this year’s climate change-induced bleaching event that killed about a fifth of the reef’s coral, suggesting next year’s results will be even worse.

The report card measures the progress towards water pollution targets, as well as the overall health of the Great Barrier Reef’s ecosystems, including coral and seagrass.

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Some improvement was seen in coral cover in “inshore reefs” – those closest to the coastline – with their score moving from a D to a C.

But the coral cover in the most northerly sections – Cape York and the Wet Tropics – were given a score of D.

Those northern sections, particularly Cape York, were the hardest hit by the 2016 bleaching event, which occurred after the data used for this report card was collected.

Initial estimates show that 22% of the coral along the whole Great Barrier Reef was killed in the event, with 85% of that mortality occurring in the northern tip, north of Lizard Island.