The Great Barrier Reef has lost half of its coral in less than three decades.
That’s according to a study released by the Australian Insitute of Marine Science today.
But it’s nature not humans which is the main culprit.
Haley Robertson reports.
The AIMS study is a culmination of 2,700 days and $50 million worth of broad-scale monitoring of the Reef since 1985.
Researchers found nearly half of the damage to be caused by storms, 42 per cent by the crown of thorns starfish and an additional 10 per cent by coral bleaching, with the southern section taking the most severe battering.
Jamie Oliver, Research Director Australian Institute of Marine Science: “It seems unlikely that there are any direct causes of human activity on water quality or the other issues.”
But World Wildlife Foundation Australia believes otherwise.
Nick Heath, Reef Spokeperson World Wildlife Foundation Australia: “This is actually fertiliser pollution feeding the crown of thorns starfish, it’s about to outbreak again and it has been the leading cause of coral loss over the last 27 years.”
Both organisations agree though that if trends continue, coral could halve again by 2022.
Nick Heath, Reef Spokeperson World Wildlife Foundation Australia: “We’re looking at a 5% coral cover unless serious action is taken.”
But with the weather unable to be controlled, the institute is now looking at ways to reduce the impact of the crown of thorns starfish.
The plan is to better understand the life cycle of the starfish in order to predict and reduce population explosions.
Jamie Oliver, Research Director Australian Institute of Marine Science: “Clearly there’s a lot of very careful work and research that would have to be done on this. We think it’s important to look at all the different possible ways of controlling the outbreaks.”
Hayley Robertson, QUT News.