Great Barrier Reef Suffers From Bleaching

 

Scientists have recently found out that excessive bleaching is occurring in Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Especially the northern part of the reef, an ecosystem once full of colourful corals now show pale structures that are in danger of dying.

The main reason for the bleaching of the reef are warm ocean temperatures. The 2015 El Nino event is extremely powerful and has caused surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific to rise. In addition, the region has been hit by storms and other extreme weather conditions.

Although coral reefs cover only about 0.1 % of the world's oceans they are home to a quarter of the world's marine animals. They are also a tourist attraction and protect coastal areas from storms.

However, coral reefs are very sensitive structures. They react quickly to changing temperatures . When the water gets too warm the algae that provide oxygen and nutrients die. Then the corals are robbed of their main food source and turn pale.

The Great Barrier Reef stretches for over a thousand miles along Australia's northeastern coast. The World Heritage Site is home to 1,500 fish species. Many other marine animals come to breed there.

 

Bleaching does not destroy the coral reefs completely but it does make them weaker and less colourful. Some scientists expect parts of the reef to take over a decade to recover. The current bleaching event is the worst in history. In 1998 and 2002 the Great Barrier Reef was also hit by strong bleaching.

 

Bleached corals

 Bleached corals - Image;J. Roff

 

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Words

  • algae = very small plants that grow in or near the water; they do not have any roots or leaves
  • although = while
  • bleaching = when colour is removed from an object
  • breed = to produce young animals or plants
  • cause = lead to
  • coral = bones of small sea creatures that grow together to form a kind of rock
  • cover = are spread over
  • current = something  that happens now; at the moment
  • decade = ten years
  • ecosystem = all the animals and plants in an area and the way they affect each other
  • excessive = very strong
  • destroy = damage completely
  • food source = from where you get your food
  • however = but
  • in addition = also
  • main = most important
  • marine = sea
  • nutrient = any kind of substance that plants and animals need to live
  • occur = happen
  • oxygen = colourless gas that is in the air and which we need to live
  • pale = without any colour
  • protect = keep something safe
  • provide = give
  • recently = a short time ago
  • reef = line of rocks or sand just above the surface of the water
  • scientist = a person who is trained in science and works in a lab
  • sensitive =here: they can change very quickly
  • species = group of animals or plants that are almost the same and can breed with each other
  • stretch = extend from one place to another
  • surface = at the top of something
  • World Heritage Site = place that is listed as especially valuable by the United Nations and should be protected