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Warming seas could ruin one of the world’s most prized ecological treasures.

Ivana Lucic   06 June 2016 09:47

Brilio.net - According to local Australian scientists, the rising temperatures of the oceans have led to mass coral bleaching.

A 100-strong team from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, at James Cook University in Queensland, has been mapping the area for months using aerial and underwater surveys. And their findings are pretty upsetting. There has been a 35% average death toll for the coral reefs at the World Heritage site that stretch for 2,300km (1,429 miles), according to the survey. The center director Terry Hughes said: "This year is the third time in 18 years that the Great Barrier Reef has experienced mass bleaching due to global warming, and the current event is much more extreme than we've measured before."

Image via lush

Apparently the reason behind this year's staggering report is the El Nino natural phenomenon, which has high sea temperatures and low cloud covers causing the coral to literally bleach because it’s simply too sunny and too hot.

It may seem insignificant in comparison to other global natural disasters, but it’s important to note that while coral reefs only make up 0.25% of the ocean, they are home to 25% of its biodiversity. They are known as the rainforests of the sea, and rightfully so.

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Without the reef, Australia would likely lose a $6 billion tourism industry, alongside endangering food security in the coastal region, Pandolfi said. "Would tourists want to go look at dead reefs?" he wondered.

It’s not only natural causes the are behind the bleaching. In fact, a lot of human causes are to blame as they are stressing the corals and preventing them from growing. Thse include: farming pollutants, fertilizers and pesticides which get dumped into the sea, over-fishing, erosion and coastal development. Keeping these to a minimum would keep tourism alive and give everyone’s favourite Pixar character Nemo and Dory a home to live in forever.

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