CORAL REEFS IN DANGER

A healthy coral is a beautiful gem which is not only collectible as a jewellery item but which somehow gives the wearer an enchanting joie de vivre.

Scientists in Australia have uncovered widespread damage to coral on the Great Barrier Reef saying we are entering uncharted territory after surveys showed consecutive years of bleaching for the first time. Following earlier surveys recently between the coastal cities of Cairns and Downsville, researchers said warmer ocean temperatures had caused widespread bleaching. This follows severe bleaching along the 1500 mile stretch of reef last year, the worst on record – caused by warm sea temperatures in March and April.

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‘This is the first time we have ever seen bleaching in back-to-back summers,’ said Dr Neal Cantin, from the Australian Institute of Marine Science. Typically, episodes of mass bleaching in the reef have been followed by several years of normal weather and ocean temperatures which have allowed the coral to recover. But scientists think the sustained heat is believed to be reducing the tolerance of the coral.

‘We are now entering uncharted territory,’ Dr Cantin said. ‘The bleaching has killed and endangered vast patches of coral which are up to 400 years old, causing them to lose the vibrant colours which attract about 2 million tourists each year.’

What a real shame if this bleaching were to continue on a regular basis and rob the world of one of nature’s most beautiful ocean gardens.

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