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Alert! Half Of The Great Barrier Reef Now Dead, 93 Percent Bleached

Apr 21, 2016 04:00 AM EDT

There's trouble brewing at the iconic Great Barrier Reef in Australia. A recent study shows that almost half of the reef, mostly in the Northern part, is practically dead while 93 percent of its corals have been bleached.

The shocking results were published by a study from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. According to the research, 93 percent of the 2,300-km long reef in the North have been flocked with very severe, moderate and light coral bleaching.

“We’ve never seen anything like this scale of bleaching before. In the northern Great Barrier Reef, it’s like 10 cyclones have come ashore all at once,” said Professor Terry Hughes, convenor of the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce.

Professor Hughes added that of all the 911 individual reefs surveyed, only 68 (7 percent) of the reefs were not bleached. Meanwhile, 316 of the surveyed reefs have suffered from severe bleaching between 60 and 100 percent.

According to CNN, coral reef bleaching happens when the algae living inside the corals are expelled out of their habitat due to rising sea temperature.

"When bleaching is this severe, it affects almost all coral species, including old, slow-growing corals that once lost will take decades or longer to return," said Andrew Baird of the ARC Centre.

Professor Hughes also noted that most of the damaged reef are those in remote areas, which means that even though these reefs are out of human reach, they could not escape climate change.

Nancy Knowlton, Sant Chair for Marine Science at the Smithsonian Institution, told Washington Post that the fact that most of the damaged reefs are in remote areas "means that a lot of prime reef is being devastated."

CNN reports that one of the greatest key players for the rise in sea temperature is El Niño. The Great Barrier Reef is not the only one affected by the warmer temperature, but Hawaii and Fiji as well.

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