great barrier reef coral bleaching, ed roberts ARC croppedHalfway through a two-year expedition aboard the French research ship Tara, a crew of climate scientists have found extensive coral bleaching throughout the Pacific.

The captain of the ship, Nicolas De La Brosse said “It doesn’t matter where you are in the Pacific, coral is starting to bleach…..What we’ve seen in really isolated spots like Samoa for example, even though it’s very far away from [developed] countries with pollution, we struggled to find any coral life.”

The Tara will travel over 100,000 kilometers in the largest research study ever conducted on coral reefs. The expedition is focused on how coral reef ecosystems in the Pacific are adapting to rising ocean temperatures, a result of climate change. After stopping in Sydney the Tara is heading north to study coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef. (photo – Ed Roberts ARC)

 

Is the Great Barrier Reef at “terminal stage”

As reported in the guardian.com, back-to-back severe bleaching events have affected two-thirds of the reef. The historic bleaching that occurred in 2016 has continued into 2017 affecting 1,500km of the reef from Townsville northward.

Professor Terry Hughes of ARC who directed the latest survey, said, “The significance of bleaching this year is that it’s back to back, so there’s been zero time for recovery,” Hughes told the Guardian. “It’s too early yet to tell what the full death toll will be from this year’s bleaching, but clearly it will extend 500km south of last year’s bleaching.”

 

“We’ve Given Up”

Jon Brodie, a water quality scientist, who has devoted much of his life to the reef is growing discouraged, telling the Guardian that the reef is now in a “terminal stage. “It’s been my life managing water quality, we’ve failed,” Brodie said. “Last year was bad enough, this year is a disaster year,” Brodie said. “The federal government is doing nothing really, and the current programs, the water quality management is having very limited success. It’s unsuccessful.”

 

Others are Still Optimistic

Others still maintain hope, although they find fault in the Australian government’s approach to protecting the reef. Jon Day a recent director of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority says that the government fell far short of providing the $8.2bn needed to meet water quality targets.

“You’ve got to be optimistic,” Day said. “But every moment we waste, and every dollar we waste, isn’t helping the issue. We’ve been denying it for so long, and now we’re starting to accept it. But we’re spending insufficient amounts addressing the problem.”

 

By Bob Frerck, Blue Ocean Network

 

See These Related Blue Ocean Posts on Coral Bleaching and the Great Barrier Reef

Is The Great Barrier Reef Dead: Not Quite
Ocean Warming Faster: New Research Shows
Decline in Ocean Oxygen Linked to Climate Change
Marine Migrations Magnified by Ocean Warming
The Year the World Focused on Climate Change
2016 The Hottest Year in Recorded History

 

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