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The bottom third of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is now the only section that has escaped back-to-back bleaching, according to new aerial surveys.
After completed aerial surveys of the reef, a team of scientists from the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies reported that two consecutive mass bleaching events in 2016 and 2017 have affected a 1,500-kiilometer stretch of the world’s largest living structure.
While last year’s coral bleaching affected the north of the Great Barrier Reef, the most recent event mainly impacted its middle section. Thus, the reef’s bottom third is the only section that has thus far escaped the calamity.
Dr James Kerry at James Cook University said, “The bottom third of the reef is now the only section that has escaped significant bleaching … The central section of the reef is now displaying the same extent of bleaching as in the north. It was shocking to see the fallout from last year’s event.”
After the back-to-back coral bleaching events, the reef suffered a damaging blow from the Cyclone Debbie, which brought ferocious winds moving at speeds of up to 260kms per hour. The cyclone lifted up and threw aside massive pieces of coral, leaving the reef broken at several locations.
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