The bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef

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Dear Tom,
We just returned from a vacation trip to Australia and while there, we learned of a huge die-off of coral in the Great Barrier Reef. Do you have any comments?
the Vander Family, Oakbrook


Dear Vander Family,
From 1995 to 2020 Australian researchers recorded huge population declines in the corals of the Great Barrier Reef, the giant reef off the east coast of Australia. Up to one third of all marine species rely on coral reefs at some point in their life cycles. The Great Barrier Reef is approximately half the size of Texas and is home to at least 1,500 species of fish. The reef decline is attributed to repeated mass bleaching events caused by the warming of ocean waters. Bleaching is a process in which corals expel algae and turn white as ocean temperatures increase.
We used to think the Great Barrier Reef was protected by its sheer size, but our results show than even the world’s largest and relatively well-protected reef system is increasingly compromised and in decline,” says Terry Jones from James Cook University, in a report recently aired by NBC News.

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