10 Mar 2016


WWF-Australia today expressed concern that the latest coral bleaching map shows worsening conditions for the northern Great Barrier Reef and shows a high risk of serious bleaching.

The map is from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. scientific agency which produces global bleaching forecasts.

Alarmingly, over the next 1 to 4 weeks it predicts Alert Level 2 conditions which means widespread bleaching and some coral mortality is expected.

Alert Level 2 is NOAA’s highest threat level and these conditions are predicted for most of the northern section of the Reef.

“This is worrying because the remote far northern section is the jewel of the Reef. It has 40% of all the Reef’s coral and is in the best condition because it avoids most pollution from agriculture,” said WWF Great Barrier Reef campaigner Louise Matthiesson.

“Climate change is driving up water temperatures and making coral bleaching worse."

“What we’re seeing re-enforces the need to speed up the shift to clean, renewable energy and to better protect the Reef from pollution,” she said.

Ms Matthiesson said cloud cover forecast for the Reef will help ease bleaching conditions but might not be enough to stop coral dying.

“We are concerned that we really don’t know what’s happening in the far northern section right now because there are very few people out on the water and not many eyewitness reports coming through,” she said.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority says sea surface temperatures are 3.5 degrees Celsius warmer than average in some places and is reporting coral bleaching in 23% of their surveys along the length of the Reef.

See the latest NOAA map here.

WWF-Australia Media Contact: Mark Symons, Senior Media Officer, 0400 985 571.