Images taken by divers and released by the Australian Marine Conservation Society show severe coral bleaching near Palm Island on the Great Barrier Reef. Jim Drury reports.
Coral bleaching in the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef. Taken by local divers near Palm Island, these photos were released by the Australian Marine Conservation Society. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has warned that the Reef could face more severe bleaching in the coming weeks. Bleaching happens when sea water is too warm, forcing coral to expel living algae, causing it to calcify and turn white. Mildly bleached coral can recover if the temperature drops. Otherwise it may die. Global warming and the effects of El Niño climatic changes are blamed. The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef. Australia's Great Natural Wonder, it consists of almost 3,000 individual reefs, stretching for almost 2,500 kilometres.