[Although this obituary is cleverly written, the GBR’s situation is bad enough, and overstating it isn’t helpful. Nevertheless, this was possibly the GBR’s worst year in its 600,000 year history, with 22 percent of the reef totally bleached. The inexorable trends in acidification and ocean warming suggest that we may still witness the death of the Great Barrier Reef in our lifetimes. cf. these stories from earlier this year:
- Great Barrier Reef suffers complete ecosystem collapse after record ocean heat wave – Bleaching event is ‘much more extreme than we’ve measured before’
- The Great Barrier Reef: A catastrophe laid bare – ‘It was one of the most disgusting sights I’ve ever seen’
- Video: Diving in the stench of millions of rotting animals at the bleached Great Barrier Reef – Des]
By Chris D'Angelo
14 October 2016
(Huffington Post) – Dead and dying are two very different things.
If a person is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, their loved ones don’t rush to write an obituary and plan a funeral. Likewise, species aren’t declared extinct until they actually are.
In a viral article titled “Obituary: Great Barrier Reef (25 Million BC-2016),” however, writer Rowan Jacobsen proclaimed ― inaccurately and, we can only hope, hyperbolically ― that Earth’s largest living structure is dead and gone.
“The Great Barrier Reef of Australia passed away in 2016 after a long illness,” reads the sensational obituary, published Tuesday in Outside Magazine. “It was 25 million years old.”
There’s no denying the Great Barrier Reef is in serious trouble, having been hammered in recent years by El Niño and climate change. In April, scientists from the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies found that the most severe coral bleaching event on record had impacted 93 percent of the reef.
But as a whole, it is not dead. Preliminary findings published Thursday of Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority surveys show 22 percent of its coral died from the bleaching event. That leaves more than three quarters still alive ― and in desperate need of relief. [more]