Damning Report Shows 91% Coral Bleaching Along The Great Barrier Reef

Annual summer snapshot

Article heading image for Damning Report Shows 91% Coral Bleaching Along The Great Barrier Reef

A report from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority shows the extent of bleaching endured.

A snapshot reveals widespread bleaching to the northern, central and southern regions of the reef through the 2021-22 summer.

Coral bleaching has affected 91% of the 719 reefs surveyed by the Marine Park Authority.

"The surveys confirm a mass bleaching event, with coral bleaching observed at multiple reefs in all regions," a statement from the report said.

"This is the fourth mass bleaching event since 2016 and the sixth to occur on the Great Barrier Reef since 1998."

Chief scientist David Wachenfeld said the positive is that the report highlights a low mortality rate.

"Bleaching is a stress response but bleached coral is still alive and under the right conditions it can recover and continue to live," he said.


"The early indications are the mortality won't be very high so we are hoping that we will see most of the coral that is bleached recover, and we will end up with an event rather more like 2020 where yes there was mass bleaching but there was low mortality."

A prolonged summer heatwave has caused the bleaching to become widespread, the report shows the most damning in areas commonly visited by tourists.

The Australian Marine Conservation Society's Lissa Schindler described the summer snapshot report as "devastating".

"This was a La Niña year, normally characterised by more cloud cover and rain. It should have been a welcome reprieve for our reef to help it recover," Schindler said.

Schindler has called upon both federal governments to respond by increasing their 2030 emission reduction targets.

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11 May 2022

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