A study revealed that the Great Barrier Reef has lost more than half of its coral reefs during the past 25 years due to bleaching caused by climate change, as experts studying the state of the Australian reef system, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, reported that it is disappearing faster than previously thought. .
According to the British newspaper “Daily Mail”, climate change caused by human activity is accelerating the so-called bleaching episodes, as corals lose their vital symbiotic algae, turn white and can eventually die.
“We found that the number of small, medium and large coral reefs on the Great Barrier Reef has decreased dramatically since the 1990s,” said paper researcher and marine biologist Terry Hughes of the University of Queensland in Australia.
“The decline has occurred in both shallow and deep waters and across nearly all species, but especially in branching reefs,” added Terry Hughes.
Perhaps these areas are hardest hit by record temperatures that led to mass bleaching in 2016 and 2017.
Branching reefs and table-shape corals provide building structures on coral reefs important to other marine life, such as fish, and their loss reduces population size and seafood productivity.
The coral reefs off the coast of Queensland host the largest collection of organisms on Earth, including about 1,500 species of fish.
The Great Barrier Reef is perhaps larger than the Great Wall of China and stretches for about 1,400 miles over an area of about 133,000 square miles.
And when ocean temperatures are extremely high, coral reefs expel the colorful symbiotic algae that provide them with food, turning them white.
If the ocean cools fast enough, projectile algae can return, but if it stays too hot for too long, the remaining corals begin to starve.
Examining changes in coral populations can reveal valuable insights into how reefs respond to past pressures and how they are likely to evolve in the future.