Coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef could be getting more severe, with areas that were hit badly last year now at risk of dying. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has placed most of the Great Barrier Reef on red alert for next month.
According to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, sea surface temperatures from Cape Tribulation to Townsville have been for over a month up to 2°C higher than normal for this time of year. The coral bleaching event that occurred over the last eight to nine months of last year resulted in 85% of coral between Cape York and Lizard Island dying.
A $1 billion reef fund was announced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turbull last June. The fund is intended to invest in projects that will improve the water quality and reduce emissions in the reef catchment region. For many, climate change was at the forefront of the election last year.
However, Imogen Zethoven, the Great Barrier Reef’s campaign director for the Australian Marine Conservation Society, has said that the fund was undercut by the Turnbull Government’s support for fossil fuel initiatives that will “spell catastrophe for the reef”. Zethoven said,
“There’s no doubt about that anymore,” she said. “They know what they are doing and they should come clean with the Australian public that they have no interest in the long-term survival of the Great Barrier Reef. To the average person on the street, that’s what it looks like. And if the government thinks that’s not the case, they’re out of touch.”
If you’re interested in seeing the latest photos of the reef’s extreme coral bleaching, check out The Guardian‘s exclusive images.