Great Barrier Reef Not Dead.. Yet

by Andy Hart // October 30, 2016

Is The Great Barrier Reef Dead?

Rumors across the internet state that the popular Great Barrier Reef surrounding the shores across Australia have died out. The great Barrier Reef spans over 1,400 miles around the coast of Australia and is home to over 600 varieties of coral but in recent years has seen a devastating die off and numerous bleaching incidents. Australian scientists argue that the southern part of the reef has not been effected by these massive die offs and they say there is still hope for the Great Barrier Reef to regain it's life after temperatures cool off. Technically, just because the reef has experienced major bleaching incidents and just because some portions are gone does not mean the whole thing is dead.. yet.

Photo via
Photo via

What's The Science?

Earlier this year the reef experienced one of it's highest bleachings which effected up to 22% of the whole reef while overall records show that at least 50% of the reef has died out entirely over the last 30 years. One thing to make clear is that when the coral reef becomes white and bleached it still has the potential for survival and is still technically alive. As temperatures rise the coral releases algae which turns them white, this is a phase shortly before they rot and die out.

According to the November survey from The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, "There is already evidence of initial recovery of previously bleached corals on some reefs in the Marine Park. In the southern half, reefs show minimal bleaching-related mortality."

Graeme Kelleher, the first chief executive of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, has called for more protection of the reef and has demanded that coal mines be shut down in Australia so that their pollutants can no longer contribute to the changing water temperatures that are contributing to the bleaching and die offs. UNESCO

The map, detailing coral loss on Great Barrier Reef, shows how mortality varies enormously from north to south Credit: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
Caption: The map, detailing coral loss on Great Barrier Reef, shows how mortality varies enormously from north to south Credit: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

“Over the last 30 years, the reef has lost 50 percent of its coral cover and one of the major causes of this is climate change,” Kelleher said.

School Of Fish Swimming Near Great Barrier Reef (Photo: Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
School Of Fish Swimming Near Great Barrier Reef (Photo: Rick Loomis/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Are You Confused? This Might Explain Why..

You're not alone if you're a bit confused by everything being said about Australia's prized reef. Various media outlets reported that the reef's death rate anywhere from 20-90% with some articles claiming the reef is gone forever while others share bits of hope. Each media publisher and author ran their own version of the circumstance citing various statistics and numbers. While some articles wrote entire obituaries for the death of the Great Barrier Reef there were other fact-checking organizations that were trying to claim the entire circumstance has been "debunked" and is entirely false; neither of which are true considering the struggle for it's survival exists right now.

The list of fake media articles doesn't end..

  1. "Great Barrier Reef dead at 25 million" - NY Post
  2. "The Great Barrier Reef is ‘dead’ at the age of 25 million" -
  3. "93 Percent Of The Great Barrier Reef Is Practically Dead ..." - Huffington Post
  4. "The Great Barrier Reef ‘dies at 25 million years old after ..." - The Sun
  5. "Great Barrier Reef is 'almost dead', say scientists" - The Telegraph
  6. "Obituary: Great Barrier Reef (25 Million BC-2016)" - Outside Magazine

Propaganda Published For Tourism

One reason some news organizations appear to be ignoring the issue altogether is because of the effect that bad media has on tourism. The tourist culture that developed around the Great Barrier Reef has seen a drop in recent years. With many of the north reefs now being bleached and getting publicized in viral articles you can start to understand why tourists are becoming disenchanted with exploiting a reef that the Australian Government doesn't seem to think is worth protecting.

Pauline Hanson, a senator from Australia, recently visited the reef to prove to the public that it was in fact healthy, thriving and "growing". She refuted the notion that the Great Barrier Reef is dying from climate change or global warming.

"We can't have these lies put across by people with their own agendas" Senator Hanson said to ABC Australia.

Pauline was criticized for visiting the thriving part of the reef and denying the effects that climate change has had on the region. She had also told ABC that attention being given to the incident was hurting tourism. The attractions, hotels, transport boats in the area have recent seen a decrease of up to 1/3 of their visitors over recent years. Tourism for the Great Barrier Reef employs 70,000 people and generates $5.1 billion in annual revenue according to the Art Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies.

The Australian Government Is Not Doing Enough To Save It

Even though the Australian Government is investing $2 billion (AUS) to protect the reef over the next decade, leaders and specialists say they are still not doing enough. As long as governments around the world are heavily invested in dirty coal, fossil fuel extraction and burning these energy options then we are emitting pollutants into the air that not only causes weather changes but degree changes as well. Kelleher says the Adani Group's Carmichael coal mine will be another contribution to the problem and has asked for Australian courts to overturn the approval of the mine. If the Government takes enough action and preventative measures to save the oceans from being polluted by mine companies and other corporations then there could be some hope for the reef and it's marine inhabitants.

Survival for the reef is key and if we want ourselves and future generations to be able to experience the Great Barrier Reef then we must continue to put pressure on the local governments because only they can regulate, oversee and improve the situation.

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Post Author: Andy Hart

─ Formerly Libertarian & now a Progressive Leftist; supports ending wars, rebuilding American lives and investing in public services. Activist. Lone Wolf. Not Great At Writing. Artist from California. Follow Me On Facebook
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