May 30, 2016

'Huge wake up call': Third of central, northern Great Barrier Reef corals dead, scientists say

Cairns QLD
Australia
by
Peter Hannam
,
The Sydney Morning Herald
Dying corals in the Great Barrier Reef after the worst bleaching event on record. Photo: James Cook University
Dying corals in the Great Barrier Reef after the worst bleaching event on record. Photo: James Cook University

Professor Terry Hughes, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, said he was "gobsmacked" by the scale of the coral bleaching which far exceeded the two previous events in 1998 and 2002.

"It is fair to say we were all caught by surprise," Professor Hughes said. "It's a huge wake up call because we all thought that coral bleaching was something that happened in the Pacific or the Caribbean which are closer to the epicentre of El Nino events"...

Professor Hughes said he did not advocate the reef being put on the "in danger" list by the World Heritage Committee, but it was time governments reconsidered their approval for massive new coal mines in Queensland's Galilee Basin and elsewhere.

"The key threat to the Great Barrier Reef is climate change – the government has recognised that many times"