The population of corals within Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has plummeted by 50 percent in the last two decades, according to a new study published on Wednesday.
Researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Queensland, Australia, assessed the colony size of corals in the reef — the world’s largest — between 1995 and 2017, and found a drastic depletion in the population of small, medium and large coral.
“The decline occurred in both shallow and deeper water, and across virtually all species, but especially in branching and table-shaped corals,” study co-author Professor Terry Hughes said of the findings, published in the Royal Society journal.
These specific corals are especially important in providing a habitat for marine life such as fish that inhabit the reef, the researchers said, meaning their loss also results in a decline in reef biodiversity. Despite covering less than 0.1 percent of