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The Great Barrier Reef has lost half its corals within 3 decades

October 14, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA - 2019/10/10: A green sea turtle is flourishing among the corals at lady Elliot island. In the quest to save the Great Barrier Reef, researchers, farmers and business owners are looking for ways to reduce the effects of climate change as experts warn that a third mass bleaching has taken place. (Photo by Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Australia's Great Barrier Reef has lost 50% of its coral populations in the last three decades, with climate change a key driver of reef disturbance, a new study has found.

(CNN) — Australia's Great Barrier Reef has lost 50% of its coral populations in the last three decades, with climate change a key driver of reef disturbance, a new study has found.

Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, in Queensland, northeastern Australia, assessed coral communities and their colony size along the length of the Great Barrier Reef between 1995 and 2017, finding depletion of virtually all coral populations, they said Tuesday.

The Great Barrier Reef, the world's largest coral reef, covers nearly 133,000 square miles and is home to more than 1,500 species of fish, 411 species of hard corals and dozens of other species.

"We found the number of small, medium and large corals on the Great Barrier Reef has declined by more than 50% since the 1990s," reported co-author Terry Hughes, a distinguished professor at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, in a statement.

"A vibrant coral population has millions of small, baby corals, as well as many large ones-- the big mamas who produce most of the larvae," said Andy Dietzel, a doctoral student at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, in a statement.

Tuesday's study found steeper deteriorations of coral colonies in the Northern and Central Great Barrier Reef following the mass bleaching events in 2016 and 2017.

The Great Barrier Reef has suffered several mass bleaching events in the past five years, and experts said the southern part of the reef was also exposed to record-breaking temperatures in early 2020.

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