Researchers said last month they were detecting another round of mass bleaching this year after a severe event in 2016, and their fears were confirmed after aerial surveys of the entire 2,300km long bio-diverse reef.
Last year, the northern areas of the World Heritage-listed reef were hardest hit, with the middle-third now experiencing the worst effects.
“Bleached corals are not necessarily dead corals, but in the severe central region we anticipate high levels of coral loss,” said James Kerry, a marine biologist at James Cook University.
“It takes at least a decade for a full recovery of even the fastest growing corals, so mass bleaching events 12 months apart offer zero prospect of recovery for reefs that were damaged in 2016.”
It is the fourth time coral bleaching has hit the reef after previous events in 1998 and 2002.
“The combined impact of this back-to-back bleaching stretches for 1,500km, leaving only the southern third unscathed,” said Terry Hughes, head of the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, also at James Cook University.
Full article: ‘Zero recovery’ for Great Barrier Reef corals in back-to-back bleaching (Channel NewsAsia)