Warming oceans and pollution have caused the largest die-off of corals ever recorded on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
The worst-affected area is a 400-mile area in the north of the 1,400-mile chain of reefs off Australia’s northeast coast.
“Most of the losses in 2016 have occurred in the northern, most-pristine part of the Great Barrier Reef. This region escaped with minor damage in two earlier bleaching events in 1998 and 2002, but this time around it has been badly affected,” said Terry Hughes, Director of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.
The Center found that the swath north of Port Douglas had lost an average of 67 percent of its shallow-water corals in the past nine months. The waters off Queensland were 1.8 degree Fahrenheit warmer in March, when the bleaching started.
The coral are dying from bleaching, which is a result of warmer-than-normal ocean temperatures, that causes the coral to lose photosynthetic algae. These algae live in the tissues of corals and once they have been released, the coral will turn completely white, thus the name coral bleaching.