Australian researchers say the Great Barrier Reef has lost half its coral cover in the past 27 years, with more impacts expected as the climate warms in coming decades. About half (46 percent) of the loss was from storm damage, with another 42 percent attributed to crown of thorns starfish and 10 percent lost to bleaching.
“We can’t stop the storms but, perhaps we can stop the starfish. If we can, then the reef will have more opportunity to adapt to the challenges of rising sea temperatures and ocean acidification, says John Gunn, CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville.
“This finding is based on the most comprehensive reef monitoring program in the world. The program started broadscale surveillance of more than 100 reefs in 1985 and from 1993 it has incorporated more detailed annual surveys of 47 reefs,” said Dr. Peter Doherty, one of the program’s original creators and a research fellow at AIMS.
“Our researchers have spent more than 2,700 days at sea and we’ve invested in the order of $50 million in this monitoring program,” Doherty said. “Interestingly, the pattern of decline varies among regions. read more>>>