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Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Coral Bleaching worsens due to widespread damages caused by warmer Ocean Temperatures

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Australia's Great Barrier Reef, VOA
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Canberra, March 10, 2017: The coral bleaching situation in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has worsened due to widespread damages caused by warmer ocean temperatures, a media report said on Friday.

The first survey for 2017 was conducted on Thursday by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), over the area between Cairns and Townsville in Queensland state.

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The agency’s David Wachenfeld said that had given him enough information to “regrettably” confirm another mass bleaching occurred.

“We also have quite a few reports through our early warning system, the eye on the reef program,” Wachenfeld told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Friday.

Warmer water temperatures resulted in the widespread bleaching of large areas of coral in the northern reef last year.

Scientists estimated that two-thirds of coral coverage died in a 700 km stretch of the reef north of Port Douglas.

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However, Wachenfeld said it was too soon to know how this year’s bleaching event compared to that seen last year.

Surveys over the rest of the reef will be conducted in the next two weeks.

Bleaching occurs when warm waters prompt coral to expel algae living within their tissues, turning white. the Guardian daily reported.

The coral may die in the six to 12 months after bleaching, meaning the level of mortality on the reef will not be determined until later in the year.

The world heritage-list reef was spared an “in danger” listing by Unesco in 2015 but environmental groups argue it remains on the organisation’s “watch list”. (IANS)

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Australia’s Great Barrier Reef To Get Help From Rescue Bot

The Great Barrier Reef is about the same size as Italy or Japan.

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great barrier reef
A large piece of coral can be seen in the lagoon on Lady Elliot Island, on the Great Barrier Reef, northeast of Bundaberg town in Queensland, Australia. VOA

For the first time an underwater robot is to be used to plant baby coral to parts of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef damaged by mass bleaching, as scientists plan to collect hundreds of millions of coral spawn off the Queensland city of Cairns in the coming weeks.

Most coral reproduce through spawning, where eggs and sperm are pushed into the water at the same time. In northern Australia, researchers are preparing to harvest this mass release of coral spawn on the Great Barrier Reef. They will be reared into baby corals in floating enclosures. Then they will be delivered as so-called ‘larval clouds’ to Vlasoff Reef about an hour’s sailing from Cairns by a semi-autonomous robot.

Professor Peter Harrison, the director of the Marine Ecology Research Center at Southern Cross University, said science is giving a nature a helping hand.

great barrier reef
Many ways wee introduced in the past to map ocean floors and the newest one is from Japan. Pixabay

“What we are trying to do now is compensate for the loss of corals that would normally provide enough larvae for the system to naturally heal,” Harrison said.

Large areas of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef have been damaged by severe bleaching – or loss of the algae that gives coral its color. The bleaching is caused by rising water temperatures and made worse by climate change.

The experiment on Vlasoff reef, which was badly affected by the mass bleaching, will be coordinated by divers, who will guide the spawn-spreading robot, known as the LarvalBot.

Professor Matthew Dunbabin from the Queensland University of Technology says time is of essence.

great barrier reef
The Great Barrier Reef, Australia. VOA

“In future projects we are hoping that we can start to do that more autonomously, but this is very new and we are up against the clock in terms of trying to get this in the field as quick as possible to make sure that we can have a reef to preserve,” Dunbabin said.

A coral reef is made up of millions of tiny animals called coral polyps. The reefs are critical ecosystems, and provide a home for at least a quarter of all marine species.

Also Read: Australia Rejects U.N. Climate Report, Continues Using Coal

The Great Barrier Reef is about the same size as Italy or Japan. Thirty species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises have been recorded along the reef.

It faces a range of threats, from climate change and overfishing, to the run-off of pollution from farms, to coral-eating crown of thorns starfish. (VOA)