Severity of damage has increased, with areas spared in previous years experiencing moderate or severe bleaching
The government agency responsible for the Great Barrier Reef has confirmed the natural landmark has suffered a third mass coral bleaching episode in five years, describing the damage as “very widespread”.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said the assessment was based on information from in-water and aerial observations, and built on the best available science and technology to understand current conditions.
Inshore and offshore reefs between Tully and Townsville were severely bleached.
Offshore areas in the northern section, including highly valued tourism reefs, were more moderately bleached.
Inner and mid-shelf reefs between Townsville and Mackay were mostly severely bleached, though some areas used by the tourism industry were only moderately bleached.
Bleaching of reefs in the Swains and Pompey groups, at the marine park’s far southeast, was highly variable, with some severe, some moderate and some with minor or no damage.