The report surveyed a total of 719 rocks from low-flying aircraft during the Australian summer 2021-2022 and found that 654 rocks, 91%, “exhibit some bleaching.”
“Surveys confirm the occurrence of large-scale bleaching, with coral bleaching observed on multiple rocks in all regions. This is the fourth large-scale bleaching since 2016 and the Great Barrier Reef since 1998. Is the sixth such incident, “the Australian government’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said in a statement.
The waters of the Great Barrier Reef began to warm in December 2021 and exceeded the “historic summer limit”. The report said that by early April 2022, it had experienced three separate heat waves during the summer, which increased the “thermal stress” in the central and northern parts of the reef.
Stress coral removes algae from its tissues, depriving it of food. If conditions do not improve, corals can starve to death, turning its carbonate skeleton white when exposed.
“So we’re really losing that window of recovery. We’re getting back-to-back bleaching events, back-to-back heat waves. And the corals aren’t just adapting to these new conditions,” he said.
The report warns that the climate crisis is the biggest threat to the rock and that “disruptions to the rock are becoming more frequent.”
Scientists say time is running out for rehabilitation of rocks and governments urgently need to address the root cause: the climate crisis.
The Great Barrier Reef is one of Australia’s national treasures, stretching about 1,400 miles (2,300 km) off the coast of Queensland, and attracted about 3 million tourists a year before the epidemic.
The Australian government has been under intense pressure from UNESCO to prove that it is doing enough to save the rock, and global meteorologists have called for, among others, to move Australia away from fossil fuels and green. Not doing enough to reduce house gas emissions.
The report comes as leading scientists called on the agency to release its findings ahead of the May 21 federal election.