Coral Cover of Great Barrier Reef Improving in Some Areas

Coral Cover of Great Barrier Reef Improving in Some Areas

The northern and central areas have increased in coral cover since 2021.

A new report shows that the Great Barrier Reef’s coral cover is increasing in some areas, but not all.

According to a media release, the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) published the Annual Summary Report on Coral Reef Condition for 2021/22. They found the coral cover of the northern and central Great Barrier Reef is the highest it’s been in 36 years.

In the north, hard coral cover increased to 36 percent between August 2021 and May 2022. In 2021, it was only 27 percent. In the central area, hard coral cover is at 33 percent, an increase from 26 percent in 2021.

In the south region, however, coral cover decreased. In 2021, the cover was 38 percent. In 2022, it was only 34 percent.

“The increasing frequency of warming ocean temperatures and the extent of mass bleaching events highlights the critical threat climate change poses to all reefs, particularly while crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks and tropical cyclones are also occurring. Future disturbance can reverse the observed recovery in a short amount of time,” said Dr. Mike Emslie, team leader for AIMS monitoring program in the media release.

Coral reefs play an essential role in the environment and human life. They protect nearly 200 million people across the world from storms and waves eroding shorelines, according to the Reef-World Foundation. About 25 percent of the world’s marine life relies on coral reefs for habitat and food, the Reef-World estimates. More than 1,600 fish species fish, 133 types of sharks and rays, 30 whale and dolphin species and 14 sea snake species live in the Great Barrier Reef. Over 600 kinds of hard and soft corals are in the Great Barrier Reef as well, according to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. Oceans are also a large source of oxygen. Without reefs, our oceans would not be as healthy as they need to, potentially affecting the amount of oxygen.

Last month, a report was published about the outlook of the environment in Australia. Among the findings were the changes in Australia’s oceans and seas and how climate change is affecting the environment. To learn more, visit the report’s website.

About the Author

Alex Saurman is the Content Editor for Environmental Protection.

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