14 Mar 2016


The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority today raised its bleaching response from level one to level two – the agency’s second highest response level.

It comes after the U.S. government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration produced an alarming map forecasting a high risk of serious bleaching for the Far Northern Section of the Great Barrier Reef during March.

WWF-Australia today called for an urgent injection of $1 million in federal funding for coral bleaching monitoring because of the worsening situation and the remoteness of the affected reefs.

“GBRMPA is clearly concerned and is being proactive in lifting its response level and we support them in taking this action,” said WWF spokesperson Richard Leck.

“It is crucial we understand just how widespread and severe this bleaching event is and the amount of coral that is dying."

“The area of the Reef that is causing such concern stretches north from Port Douglas to the tip of Cape York. It’s the most ecologically intact part of the Reef and also the most remote."

“Surveying the impact of this bleaching event requires significant additional funds because of the challenges of getting scientists into the field over enormous distances. However it is vital this work occurs, so the most effective management response can be put in place."

“Scientists need to be on the Reef gathering information in the next few weeks and again in three to four months’ time to determine coral mortality,” he said.

Mr Leck said an underwater heat wave made worse by global warming has been causing coral bleaching around the world.

“Moving to renewable energy is the best way to tackle global warming and to give coral a fighting chance,” said Mr Leck.

This Saturday March 19 millions of Australians will take part in Earth Hour from 8:30 - 9:30 pm local time to show their support for a clean energy future. This year Earth Hour is celebrating the places we love - like the Great Barrier Reef - that are under threat from rising temperatures.

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