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The new Great Barrier Reef report indicates that 91 per cent of surveyed reefs along the landmark have endured coral bleaching.
The summer 2021-2022 snapshot was quietly published by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) after weeks of delays and whispers that it would be released after the Federal election on May 21.
The report was released this week and it reveals that rising water temperatures have caused bleaching along 2,300km worth of reefs.
It also confirmed it was the sixth mass bleaching event since 1998 and the fourth mass bleaching event since 2016.
The Guardian reports the worst affected areas were primarily popular tourist hot spots, while 719 reefs between the Torres Strait and the Capricorn Bunker Group, east of Gladstone and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park were all bleached.
“Unfortunately, the events that cause disturbances on the reef are becoming more frequent, leaving less time for coral recovery.”
This is also the first mass bleaching event to occur under La Niña.
In March, the authority’s chief scientist Dr David Wachenfeld disclosed to The Guardian that bleaching was not supposed to happen during La Niña conditions.
"The climate is changing and the planet and the reef is about 1.5 degrees centigrade warmer than it was 150 years ago,” he said.
“Because of that, the weather is changing. Unexpected events are now to be expected. Nothing surprises me any more.”
Campaign manager with the Australian Marine Conservation Society Lissa Schindler said the report was ‘devastating’, and bleaching along the reef is becoming more frequent.
She said: “This was a La Nina year, normally characterised by more cloud cover and rain.
“It should have been a welcome reprieve for our reef to help it recover and yet the snapshot shows more than 90% of the reefs surveyed exhibited some bleaching.
“Although bleaching is becoming more and more frequent, this is not normal and we should not accept that this is the way things are. We need to break the norms that are breaking our reef.”
Schindler also demanded that both major Australian political parties make bigger emission reductions by 2030 if they want any chance to save the reef.
She added: “By taking the action required and embracing the huge opportunities of the renewable energy revolution in Australia, we can help protect tens of thousands of reef jobs and create thousands more in clean energy.”