What is coral bleaching?
When corals become stressed, they expel the tiny colourful algae that live within their transparent tissue. Without the colourful algae, the coral limestone structure looks ghostly white.
What causes coral bleaching?
The main cause of coral bleaching is heat stress. Global warming causes the Reef’s waters to heat up and when the water remains too hot for too long it causes mass bleaching events.
The mining and burning of fossil fuels is the leading cause of global warming.
Pollution from farm runoff makes corals more vulnerable to bleaching and makes it harder for them to recover.
Scientists predict that warming sea temperatures will mean more frequent and severe coral bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef.
What’s happening now?
This summer, the Great Barrier Reef is already being impacted by coral bleaching. In February bleaching began around a number of islands along the length of the Reef, from Heron Island in the south to Lizard Island north of Cairns.
The Reef is on a knife edge. If warm weather continues, the bleaching could spread and become more severe, with the risk forecast to stay high until April.
SolutionsExperts say that corals can recover - if we give them a chance. There are two vital things Australia must do to combat coral bleaching:
- Make a rapid transition away from fossil fuels toward clean renewable energy
- Slash polluted farm run-off to give the Reef the clean water it needs to recover from coral bleaching events
Coral Bleaching Petition
Dear Mr Turnbull,
As our Prime Minister we urge you to provide leadership to ensure the survival of Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef.
Coral bleaching is harming the Reef right now, and urgent action is needed.
The Federal Government must rapidly transition Australia to clean safe renewable energy that will secure the future of the Reef and the regional jobs that depend on it.
The Government should also support a legal cap on chemical farm pollution that runs into the Reef’s waters. This pollution makes coral more vulnerable to bleaching and slows down its recovery from bleaching events.
The Great Barrier Reef is part of Australia’s identity. WIll you stand up and protect it?