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In Australia, coral reefs are making a comeback in the Great Barrier Reef

In Australia, coral reefs are making a comeback in the Great Barrier Reef

Scientists are alarmed that areas of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef have more coral reefs for the first time in decades, according to a government report on Thursday.

According to the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the northern and central parts of this vast UNESCO heritage site saw a significant increase in coral reefs last year for the first time in 36 years, the date the monitor was established.

Scientists in charge of the 87 sites say the reefs recovered faster than expected, in part because of the rapid growth of “acropora” corals that help build coral reefs.

“These results demonstrate that reefs can still recover during periods without severe disturbance”Australian Institute of Marine Science chief executive Paul Hardisty said.

But far from claiming victory, he believes hurricanes, bleaching events and the appearance of coral-eating starfish could easily put an end to this progress.

As a result, the southern part of the rock, which was disturbed a year ago, is collapsing again.

“This shows how vulnerable the reef is to frequent and long-lasting severe and severe disturbances.”He declared.

Coral cover reached 36% of monitored sites in the northern part of the reef, down from 27% in 2021.

The statistics are more encouraging in the south. In the central region, the increase is less significant and in the south their numbers are decreasing.

For decades, the Great Barrier Reef has been experiencing “bleaching” due to warming ocean temperatures.

The proliferation of starfish, which kill coral, has also taken its toll.

Many fear an acceleration of the rate of damage leading to total destruction of the reef.

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According to Terry Hughes, a marine scientist, the species behind this recovery are the most vulnerable to ocean warming.

He believes it is “no longer possible” to replace the large, old, slow-growing corals that defined the reef.

Joe Richards, a researcher at Curtin University, cautioned against being too optimistic.

“This recovery trend is driven by a few Acropora species, which means that the next heat stress event could easily wipe out these coral communities again.”

(AFP)