Great Barrier Reef shows “substantial signs of recovery”

After years of severe bleaching, the natural wonder has been bouncing back

In the times of alarming news about nature suffering from human activities, something positive is finally happening. The Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral system that stretches 2,300 kilometres along the Queensland’s coastline, is bouncing back.

The biggest coral system on Earth shows signs of recovery — Shutterstock Great Barrier Reef shows “substantial signs of recovery”
The biggest coral system on Earth is showing signs of recovery from years of bleaching – Shutterstock

The natural wonder underwent years of bleaching and raised alarms that his existence could be destroyed, but now, Tourism and Events Queensland has issued a “positive update” on the reef’s status reporting that some affected areas are showing “substantial signs of recovery”.

The Reef & Rainforest Research Centre (RRRC), a nonprofit organisation, has evaluated the state of the corals near Cairns, Australia, and has reported that thanks to a milder summer last year, as well as a change of approach and cooperation among government, science, and industry, the corals are showing significant signs of improvement.

Bleaching doesn’t have to mean an end

Coral bleaching, which the reef experienced in 2016 and 2017, is a process that occurs when the temperature of the ocean increases or the water quality becomes poor. In such a state, the coral produces photosynthetic algae called zooxanthellae that changes the coral’s colour. It can be fatal. However, cases do not have to be that severe in all cases.   

“When a reef is reported as bleached in the media, that often leaves out a critical detail on how severe that bleaching is, at what depth the bleaching has occurred and if it’s going to cause permanent damage to the coral at that site,” RRRC managing director, Sheriden Morris, said in a statement.

Bleaching occurs when the water temperature rises or the quality turns poor — Shutterstock Great Barrier Reef shows “substantial signs of recovery”
Bleaching occurs when the water temperature rises or quality turns poor – Shutterstock

He added that the Barrier Reef “has significant capacity to recover from health impacts like bleaching events”.

The organisation presented the news about the reef’s recovery at the Great Barrier Reef Restoration Symposium in Cairns, which they co-hosted. More than 300 scientists and marine tourism representatives from 14 countries attended the symposium that focused on the restoration of the reef system.

The preservation of the reef is an important question for the authorities. The Australian government has pledged to save the reef and in April, they announced a $379 million (A$500 million) funding grant that aims to tackle the challenges brought by climate changes and disruptive human activities.