Great Barrier Reef hit with “severe” bleaching event ahead of UN visit

The Great Barrier Reef is facing another major bleaching event, just days before it was due to be assessed by the United Nations.

Recent, extended periods of warm water has caused widespread bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, which has been rated as “severe”.

The bleaching came just three days before the United Nations delegation were set to visit the world heritage site for a health assessment.

Great Barrier Reef bleaching
Credit: Brett Monroe Garner/Getty Images

Coral bleaching is a phenomena that takes place when long periods of unusually warm water cause coral to release the algae living inside it, rendering it colourless. If the water takes too long to cool down, the coral dies because it relies on the algae for energy.

Professor David Wachenfeld, the chief scientist at The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), says the current situation is “concerning”.

“In the areas of central Great Barrier Reef where heat stress has been the worst over this summer, we are starting to see some coral mortality,” he explained.

Now, here’s a (not so) fun little stat for all the climate change deniers out there: the first widespread bleaching event to impact the Great Barrier Reef did not occur until 1998. But since then, there has been mass bleaching in 2002, 2016, 2017, 2020, and now possibly 2022 as well.

In a desperate attempt to win over much need voters, Scott Morrison announced that he would invest $1 billion into Great Barrier Reef conservation, but only if he was re-elected.

It’s a bit late for that now isn’t it, Scotty. Just keep on waving that little piece of coal around.