The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has confirmed that a “very widespread” mass-bleaching event is occurring on the world’s biggest coral reef.
The reef had been under pressure from heat stress that accumulated over the 2019/20 Australian summer, particularly in February and early March. The mass-bleaching event is the third to occur since 2016.
“With aerial surveys being completed this week, we will better understand the extent and severity of this bleaching event,” the authority stated on 26 March. “Further analysis will continue over the coming weeks.”
Aerial surveys had been conducted over the previous two weeks by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, as reported on Divernet earlier this week.
The surveys confirmed that the worst bleaching was on reefs that had been suffering from the highest heat stress, extending across large areas. Some southern areas that experienced little or no bleaching in the 2016 and 2017 events had suffered from moderate or severe bleaching this time.