Over the past 25 years, the well-known Great Barrier Reef has lost more than half of all its corals, according to a new study.
Researchers from the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies have, among other things, studied the sizes of the various corals, and how they have grown in the years between 1995 and 2017.
They found that both large, medium and small corals, at the reef off Australia, have been more than halved during these years, according to The Guardian.
The coral reef has been a tourist magnet for a long time. Both because of the size, the many different fish species and the colors of the corals. The study has led to the researchers, again, having to go out and warn that the coral reef will become unrecognizable – if you do not cut down on greenhouse gases.
According to Terry Hughes, one of the researchers behind the study, there was a mass bleaching of the coral reef in 2016 and 2017 because the temperature in the sea was record high. It should also be mentioned that, since this study has only looked at the years between 1995 and 2017, it does not involve a violent bleaching of the coral reef earlier this year.
Coral bleaching occurs, among other things, when the sea becomes warmer than normal, as a result of climate change. When this happens, several of the algae that live on the corals die, and the coral animals themselves turn pale and die.
– I started monitoring the coral reefs in 1995, and none of us had imagined what would happen in the following years. There have been five major bleaching episodes since then, and three of them have occurred in the last five years, Hughes told The Guardian.
He also says that he is very worried that the time intervals between the incidents have become so short lately.
Risks losing a habitat
While it is serious that both corals of all sizes bleach and die, it is most serious that the very largest corals die, according to Hughes. The chance that the foxes will be able to repair themselves falls considerably when the largest ones die.
Corals grow on top of each other and make new corals on top of those that are already there, so they can grow really big.
When large corals die, it is more difficult for the foxes to rebuild themselves.
In addition, you lose an entire habitat. Coral reefs are very productive ecosystems, according to Store Norske Leksikon. Due to the shape, many different organisms can live there, in addition to snails, clams, crabs, crustaceans and many colorful fish species.
To save the coral reefs, we must, according to the study, be able to control the warming of our planet so that it does not exceed 2 degrees.