Great Barrier Reef - Heatwave bleaches 91pc of it: report
A prolonged summer heatwave in Australia left 91 percent of the Great Barrier Reef's coral damaged by bleaching, according to a new government monitoring report.
It was the first time on record the reef had suffered bleaching during a La Nina weather cycle, when cooler temperatures would normally be expected.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, which published the report late Tuesday, conducted extensive surveys of the World Heritage-listed reef between September 2021 and March 2022. Of the 719 reefs surveyed, the report said 654 -- or 91 percent -- showed some level of coral bleaching.
It found that after waters began to warm last December, all three major regions of the reef experienced bleaching -- a phenomenon that occurs when coral is stressed and expels brightly coloured algae living in it.
Although bleached corals are still alive, and moderately affected sections of the reef may recover, "severely bleached corals have higher mortality rates", the report said.
The report was published 10 days before Australia's May 21 federal election, in which climate change policy has emerged as a key issue for voters.