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Wednesday, August 3rd, The Australian Institute of Marine Science released results from a 36 year monitoring effort over the Great Barrier Reef.
From this year’s analysis, researchers over the project report that coral spread is the highest recorded in 2022 than it has throughout the 36 years of observations.
The Great Barrier Reef is home to nearly 9,000 aquatic species, and serves as a breeding and rearing ground for most fish represented. Some species rely on the coral for shelter, others rely on coral visitors for protection, such as the Medusafish among Jellyfish. A loss of corals results in lower biodiversity among the reefs as reproduction is inhibited or blocked altogether, and habitats—even seajelly in origin—are lost.
In an interview with Science Daily, the CEO for the Institute overseeing the study, Dr Paul Hardisty reported quote: “The 2020 and 2022 bleaching events, while extensive, didn’t reach the intensity of the 2016 and 2017 events and, as a result, we have seen less mortality. These latest results demonstrate the Reef can still recover in periods free of intense disturbances,” end quote.
This statement gives hope that through mitigation of the growing effects of climate change, the great barrier reef appears to hold a chance in recovering to its once sustainable levels.
Whereas the potential remains for regrowth throughout the entire barrier reef, current temperature stress on the reef continues to bring alongside coral bleaching events, removing corals in certain regions of the reef faster than others.
As a consequence of this, overgrowth of marine invertebrates such as the Crown of Thorns Starfish occurs. These organisms are historically responsible for the central and northern portions of the reef to heavily decline. Particularly last year, Crown of Thorns Starfish were reported to have desiccated nearly 1/3 the surface of the Southern reef through 2020 and 2021.
Researchers Australian Institute of Marine Science are continuing to monitor Great Barrier Reef corals and have their most recent analysis available to the public on their website at aims.gov.au.
This has been Eco News Now with Compassion Crossing, thanks for listening.