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
Many Australians do not know what they can individually do to make a difference to the health of the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef (GBR), according to a survey led by QUT researchers.
The researchers found most Australians are not making a connection between climate change and reef health and say there is more individuals could do on this front, both in the home and to influence government policies.
Senior Research Fellow Dr Angela Dean conducted the online survey of 4,285 Australians with Professor Kerrie Wilson, Director of QUT’s Institute for Future Environments, and Dr Robyn Gulliver from the University of Queensland.
The resulting paper, “Taking action for the Reef?” — Australians do not connect Reef conservation with individual climate-related actions, has been published in Conservation Letters: a journal of the Society for Conservation Biology.
“While there are many threats to reef health, including poor water quality stemming from
Sometimes dubbed “the rainforests of the sea” coral reefs make up less than 0.2% of the ocean floor but are home to 25% of all marine species.
Human activity and global warming mean these unique and fragile ecosystems are under threat. In partnership with Qatar University and France-based marine biodiversity company Seaboost, Total is working on an innovative solution inspired by nature, to restore degraded coral.
“Degradation is a really serious problem, it requires urgent intervention and REEF is a contribution to that,” says Philippe Blanc, who heads up Total’s Marine Ecosystems Environmental Monitoring and Restoration R&D work.
A solution inspired by nature
Total’s R&D teams are aiming to cement their ambition as the responsible energy major, seeking out environmental mitigation solutions wherever possible. The REEF venture sees them developing artificial reefs and finding new structures and materials that encourage the recolonization of degraded ones.