The Great Barrier Reef in Australia now faces an even bigger problem. The number of baby corals at the Great Barrier Reef has decreased by 89% due to mass bleaching in 2016 and 2017. Coral bleaching occurs when unusual environmental conditions like increased sea temperatures force corals to expel small photosynthetic algae which normally provide oxygen and nutrients. As a result, the corals turn white and die.
Experts predict that corals may have a chance at recovery over the next decade but only if mass bleaching stops occurring. Humans will not only lose the Great Barrier Reef but risk the extinction of marine creatures that naturally inhabit the reef. Green turtles, dugongs, and even clownfish all heavily rely on the coral reefs to survive. These creatures play an important role in regulating the ecosystem underwater.
The Great Barrier Reef stretches across more than 2,200km off the coast of Australia and has experienced four mass bleaching events. Scientists used to assume that the world’s largest coral system was too big to fail. Now, it holds the status of being “in danger”. The only way to stop the extinction of this world heritage site is to tackle the roots of global warming, or else human beings will risk losing another of nature’s wonder.