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

Australia's Great Barrier Reef, VOA

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 Use Of Drumlines Is Killing Endangered Shark Species

There are 173 drumlines that operate within the Great Barrier Reef.

Great Barrier Reef, Pixabay

Protectionist groups on Tuesday warned that Australia’s use of drumlines under the country’s Shark Control Programme in the Great Barrier Reef is killing endangered shark species.

Humane Society International and the Australian Marine Conservation Society released a series of photographs and videos of two endangered scalloped hammerheads (Sphyrna lewini) found dead on a line near Magnetic Island in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Efe news reported.

“Lethal drumlines are an old and ineffective method of bather protection. They catch and kill hundreds of non-target marine animals in the Great Barrier Reef,” Nicola Beynon, head of campaigns at Humane Society International, said in a statement.

The Great Barrier Reef, Sharks
Agincourt Reef, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

“Lethal drumlines provide nothing more than a completely false sense of security, at the expense of the lives of threatened species that are crucial to our Great Barrier Reef ecosystem,” she added.

Tooni Mahto, a campaign manager at the Australian Marine Conservation Society, said these “same ineffective, lethal methods” have been used by successive Queensland governments since the 1960s.

She called “for a change in our views of sharks and a change in policy to reflect that.”

According to Shark Control Programme statistics, 10,480 sharks – many of them innocuous – have been caught on lethal drumlines since 2001 in the Great Barrier Reef, declared a World Heritage area.

The Great Barrier Reef, Sharks
Lethal drumlines are an old and ineffective method of bather protection. They catch and kill hundreds of non-target marine animals in the Great Barrier Reef. Flickr

It has also killed a significant numbers of rays, turtles, fish and dolphins.

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“Humane Society International is currently engaged in legal action against the QLD Government and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority for shark culling on lethal drumlines within the World Heritage-listed reef,” the statement said.

There are 173 drumlines that operate within the Great Barrier Reef, although the Queensland government has removed seven of the 26 species of shark from its target list since the legal challenge was launched. (IANS)