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The Great Barrier Reef Faces Fifth Mass Bleaching Event in Eight Years

Why is it in the news?

  • The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) has experienced its 5th mass bleaching event in just 8 years, with previous occurrences in 1998, 2002, 2016, 2017, 2020, and 2022.
About Coral bleaching

·       Coral bleaching occurs when environmental stressors, such as spikes in ocean temperatures, cause corals to expel the algae living in their tissues, resulting in the loss of their vibrant colours.

 

Causes of Mass Bleaching Events

  • Climate change-induced warming is a major factor contributing to coral bleaching events, as rising sea temperatures stress corals beyond their tolerance levels.
  • The increasing frequency of El Niño events exacerbates the frequency and severity of mass bleaching events by causing further temperature fluctuations in the ocean.
  • Factors such as the lack of wind and currents can lead to less water mixing and clearer seas, allowing for deeper penetration of solar irradiance, which intensifies bleaching.
  • Other contributing factors include extremely low tides, pollution, and overexposure to sunlight, all of which can further stress coral reefs.

 

About Great Barrier Reef

·       The Great Barrier Reef stretches for over 2,300 kilometres along the northeast coast of Australia, making it the world’s largest coral reef complex.

·       Designated a World Heritage Site in 1981, the GBR is composed of billions of tiny organisms known as coral polyps, which build and maintain the reef structure.

Coral Reefs in India

·   In India, coral reefs are found in several locations including the Gulf of Kutch, Gulf of Mannar, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep Islands, and Malvan in Maharashtra.

·       These reefs are composed of colonies of thousands of tiny individual corals, called polyps, which have hard exoskeletons made of calcium carbonate.

·       Coral reefs in India contribute significantly to biodiversity, fisheries, coastal protection, and tourism, making their conservation crucial for both ecological and socioeconomic reasons.

 

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