DANGEROUS WATERS

Over 50% of Great Barrier Reef Damaged

An extensive aerial survey of damage to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef—the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem—has revealed that mass coral bleaching is severely affecting more than 50 percent of its length and leaving patches of damages elsewhere. Scientists say climate change and a strong El Niño year have caused higher temperatures to stress coral, which puts it in danger of death. Terry Hughes, head of Australia’s coral bleaching task force, said this is the worst bleaching event to have hit the Great Barrier Reef by far. Hughes noted that this year’s damage is three to four times worse than previous episodes—in 1998 or 2002—adding that the “outstanding universal value” of the reef is “severely compromised.”