93 percent of Great Barrier Reef affected by bleaching

Sydney: Extensive aerial and underwater surveys have revealed that coral bleaching has affected 93 percent of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

Surveys of 911 individual reefs showed damage ranged from severe to minor along its 2,300 km length, Xinhua news agency reported.

Convener of the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce Professor Terry Hughes on Wednesday said he had never seen anything like this scale of bleaching before.

“In the northern Great Barrier Reef, it’s like 10 cyclones have come ashore all at once,” Hughes said.

“Towards the southern end, most of the reefs have minor to moderate bleaching and should soon recover.”

He noted that only 7 percent, or 68 reefs, had escaped coral bleaching entirely.

Australia’s tourism industry relies on the Great Barrier Reef as it generates an annual income of $3.89 billion and employs nearly 70,000 people.

“Thankfully, many parts of the reef are still in excellent shape, but we can’t just ignore coral bleaching and hope for a swift recovery,” Chief Executive of the Queensland Tourism Industry Council Daniel Gschwind said.