News National Barrier Reef has largest coral die-off ever recorded
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Barrier Reef has largest coral die-off ever recorded

Coral die off record
In one area, 67 per cent of a 700km swath in the north of the reef lost its shallow-water corals over the past eight to nine months. Photo: Getty.
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A new study has found higher water temperatures have ravaged the Great Barrier Reef, causing the worst coral bleaching ever recorded by scientists.

In the worst affected area 67 per cent of a 700km swath in the north of the reef lost its shallow-water corals over the past eight to nine months, the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies based at James Cook University study found.

“Most of the losses in 2016 have occurred in the northern, most-pristine part of the Great Barrier Reef, ” Professor Terry Hughes said.

“This region escaped with minor damage in two earlier bleaching events in 1998 and 2002, but this time around it has been badly affected.”

The southern two-thirds of the reef escaped with only minor damage, which was protected from the rising sea temperatures because of cooler water from the Coral Sea, Professor Hughes said.

Scientists expect that the northern region will take at least 10 to 15 years to regain the lost corals, but are concerned a fourth bleaching event could happen sooner and interrupt the slow recovery.

Hanson in hot water over coral handling

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is looking into Senator Pauline Hanson’s trip to the reef after she was photographed handling a piece of coral.

Senator Hanson and two of her colleagues travelled to Great Keppel Island on Friday to hit out at “untruths” told by green groups about the reef’s health.

She was photographed holding up a piece of coral while snorkelling, which was not allowed under a zoning plan unless a research permit had been granted, a spokesman for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said.

Pauline Hanson in trouble for handling coral
Senator Hanson’s trip was to debunk some assumptions about coral bleaching. Photo: AAP.

“We understand one of the parties involved has an existing research permit, which outlines conditions for coral collecting, including species, size, location and equipment,” he said in a statement.

“We are seeking further information on the activities – and reviewing the conditions of the permit – to determine what follow up action, if any, is required.”

Senator Hanson also faced criticism for holding her media event far from where the worst of the coral bleaching has occurred.

Conservationists said Senator Hanson should have instead travelled to Lizard Island – more than 1000km away – where the worst of the bleaching begins.

– AAP

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