According to a new report out of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the state of coral cover is in severe trouble and as it has been revealed that it is at the lowest in recorded history.
The report lists that a mix of deadly cyclones, coral bleaching, and crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks are to blame for the continued the loss of more than half of coral lost in some regions to one of the world wonders.
The report is part of an annual summary on coral reef conditions put together by the government-backed agency. As part of the report, they visited each reef along the Queensland coast once every two years and used collected data by manta tows.
The paper that was published focused on the central and southern sections, which points out that the report did not take into consideration the full impact of Tropical Cyclone Debbie and coral bleaching in 2017 on the northern region which has seen ever more loss than the central and southern regions due to warmer water temperatures. Current indicators are that the northern section has lost roughly of all coral since 2016 according to another recent report
Coral in the central section suffered coral bleaching and crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks while in the southern region, there is an overall decline in mean coral coverage between 2017 and 2018 for the first time in seven years.
In the worst affected regions, a unbelievable 90 percent of coral has died and the impact of climate change is only expected to increase and accelerate the current trends.
The authors point out that damage to breeding populations means fewer larvae to recolonize the reefs. If coral larvae decrease the amount of coral growing back, options such as the very expensive, coral fragment farms may be an option.
Australia recently pledged $379 million USD to help restore water quality, tackle the growing issue with the devastating crown of thorns starfish, and breed heat-resistant coral to help repopulate the damaged reef system but has been highly criticized for failing to do anything to address reducing carbon emissions and slowing climate change.