Ocean temperatures across parts of the Great Barrier Reef have been above or close to thresholds where there is a high risk of coral bleaching for several weeks.
During this time, temperature readings from marine weather stations operated by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) have shown sea surface temperatures throughout most of the Reef at 1 to 2.5°C above average.
Fortunately, cooler weather over the weekend has brought some relief, reducing the immediate likelihood of severe widespread bleaching. Nevertheless, if clear skies and low wind conditions return, so will the risk of bleaching.
AIMS Oceanographer Craig Steinberg said AIMS is working closely with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and specialists from other national and international agencies to ensure we have the most comprehensive understanding of conditions on the Reef.
“Our knowledge and long-term understanding of northern Australian waters tell us warming oceans place enormous pressure on the Reef’s ecology. If heatwave conditions persist or worsen, we can expect corals to exhibit stress and experience some level of regional bleaching,” he said
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