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Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is not dead but is dying of prolonged illness

More than 25% of the coral on the Great Barrier Reef is now dead if the reports by two government agencies which looked into the matter are deemed correct. The worst affected regions include the previously pristine remote locations in the northern sections of the sprawling coral ecosystem. The latest data was released on Friday, October 14, 2016, by the two agencies that were part of the national coral bleaching taskforce. The Australian Research Council also published a report which gave similar conclusions.

In spite of diverging claims by different agencies about the death of large swathes of the Great Barrier Reef, the exact results of the primary coral bleaching event are only now getting apparent.

John Gunn, Chief Executive of Australian Institute of Marine Science, has stated that the impacts of bleaching are being played out and many corals in the northern sector will be dying while other could recover from the bleaching in the coming month. Areas, where the bleaching process is low, will surely recover and bounce back into life.

85% of the deaths have occurred in the region north of the Lizard Island and today 50% of the corral of the island is dead. Portions to the south which encompasses most of the tourist destinations including Cairns and Port Douglas have around 16% of its coral population dead.

Many claim that the Great Barrier Reef, which is about the size of Italy, is very robust and can bounce back into life after major catastrophic events. However, the tone of the release by non-government partners is not very optimistic and states that 35% of the corrals have been killed due to bleaching. Government and Non-Government figure diverge considerably especially the Lizard Island which the Australian Government states has lost 30% of its Coral reefs while Non-Governmental sources say the numbers are much higher at 50%.

The baseline is that Global Warming caused by human activities are causing irreparable damage to the coral reefs and if urgent measures are not taken, it could mean a death knell for this unique biotic ecology which has lived for millions of years.