Great Barrier Reef suffers third mass bleaching event in five years


Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has experienced its most widespread bleaching event on record, with the south of the reef bleaching extensively for the first time, a new survey has found.

This marks the third mass bleaching event on the reef in just the last five years and scientists say that the rapid warming of the planet due to human emissions of heat-trapping gases are to blame.

Aerial analysis conducted by Terry Hughes, director of the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, and others from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, found that coastal reefs along the entire length of the iconic reef — a stretch of about 1,500 miles (2,300 kilometers) from the Torres Strait in the north, right down to the reef’s southern boundary — have been severely bleached.

 “We are all in shock really at how quick this has happened,” said Hughes. “Three severe bleaching events in five years is not something we anticipated happening until the middle of the century.”