A new report points out that this area declared a World Heritage Site has lost more than half of its corals since 1995.

An image of the Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef, which stretches 2,300 kilometers off the coast of northeastern Australia, lost more than half of its corals since 1995 as a result of warming waters caused by climate change, according to a study published this week.

The decrease in corals (small, medium and large) It occurred in both shallow and deep waters throughout the Great Barrier Reef, which is home to 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 varieties of mollusks.

The corals with deer antler and flats, which make up important structures for fish and other species that inhabit the reefs, are the most affected according to this study that measured the size of the coral colonies in this area declared a World Heritage Site.

Coral bleaching

The co-author of this study, Terry Hughes, an expert at the Center of Excellence for the Study of Coral Reefs (CoralCoE), said in a statement from the institution that these types of coral were “the most affected by record temperatures that triggered mass money laundering in 2016 and 2017 ″.

To the two consecutive coral bleaches that mainly damaged the northern and central areas of the Great Barrier Reef was added another at the beginning of the year that most affected the southern sector of this coral system, which with its 344,400 square kilometers, is the largest in the world.

The main cause of this phenomenon is the increase in sea temperature, which makes corals expel zooxanthallae, microscopic algae that provide them with oxygen and a portion of the organic compounds they produce through photosynthesis.

In total, the Great Barrier Reef has been affected by five massive whiteouts caused by the increase in the planet’s temperature due to climate change between 1998 and 2017, in addition to two others due to the influx of fresh water, according to the governmental Australian Institute of Marine Sciences.

“We used to think that the Great Barrier Reef is protected because of its sheer size, but our results show that even the largest and relatively well-protected reef system in the world it is increasingly exposed and in decline “Hughes mused.

Compromised resilience

For his part, Andy Dietzel, from CoralCoE at James Cook University, and lead author of this study published this Wednesday in the scientific journal Procedings of the Royal Society B, advocated an increase in demographic studies of corals to understand your changes.

“Our results show that the ability of the Great Barrier Reef to recover – that is, your resilience- is exposed compared to the past, because there are fewer young and fewer large adults that reproduce ”, warned Dietzel, calling for greater action against climate change.

The Australian Marine Park Authority, whose government promotes coal and gas as axes of its economy, last year lowered the rating on the health status of this ecosystem from “poor” to “very poor”, and pointed out that the objectives to improve water quality of the government plan, which runs until 2050, have not been met .