Great Barrier Reef Has Lost Half Its Coral Cover Since 1985
Australiaâ€™s Great Barrier Reef has lost more than half its coral cover since 1985, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The loss has been spurred by a combination of factors including hurricanes, coral-eating starfish and coral bleaching. The paper is the most comprehensive survey of a reef system over such a long period. The researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science found that reef cover fell from 28 to 13.8% over the past 27 years, with two-thirds of the decline occurring since 1998.
The sobering findings highlighted how even the worldâ€™s most protected marine areas are under assault from natural forces and causes linked to the human activity that is resulting in climate change. The Great Barrier Reef is the worldâ€™s largest coral reef ecosystem, featuring nearly 3,000 individual reefs within 133,205 square miles. A third of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is off-limits to fishing and collecting.