Coral bleaching occurred on the Great Barrier Reef

Coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia has been extensive, according to NBC News. This is the third such event in this unique nature reserve in five years.

According to scientists, fragile corals are threatened by record high ambient temperatures and warming oceans.

The entire Great Barrier Reef and some of its surroundings are under unprecedented heat stress. Heat-induced bleaching may occur intermittently, but researchers estimate that climate change is causing more frequent destruction of the local ecosystem, which is particularly worrying as corals lack time to recover and grow.

The last major reef bleaching event took place in 2017 and scientists did not expect such a repeat in the near future, said Mark Iakin, Coordinator of Coral Reef Watch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “This has never happened before in history,” Iakin added.

There have been only five cases of bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef in history, said Terry Hughes, director of the Australian Coral Reef Research Council’s Centre of Excellence at James Cook University in North Queensland. The first was in 1998 and then another in 2002. Two more cases occurred in 2016 and 2017.