After a mass bleaching event, how is the Great Barrier Reef doing today? 

Unfortunately, yes the Great Barrier Reef is still in danger. There are many environmental factors that have been affecting the reef, causing damage at an alarming rate.

About the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage Area and is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. It’s the largest system of coral reefs on the planet, attracting millions of visitors each year.

Many people love the Great Barrier Reef for the crystal clear waters that surround it. They also love the colourful coral and mesmerising fish. In fact, there are over 1,500 different species of fish that call the reef home.

What is happening to harm the Great Barrier Reef?

The main threats to the Great Barrier Reef include climate change and human interference. In April of 2024, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced the fourth mass bleaching event. This is the second mass bleaching event to happen within the last ten years.

As of September 2023, the Great Barrier Reef wasn’t listed on the United Nations’ list of endangered World Heritage sites. However, the reef very much remains in danger. If things don’t drastically change, the reef could become completely destroyed.

The main cause of coral bleaching comes from the warming of the oceans. The average ocean temperature has increased by 1.1 degrees Celsius, which has caused coral to die off. If the ocean continues to warm up, it’s predicted that 70% to 90% of the coral will die.

What can be done to protect the Great Barrier Reef?

Despite the disheartening news, there are things that we can do on a personal level to try and conserve the Great Barrier Reef.

  • Use reef friendly sunscreen

There are specific sunscreens that you should use when swimming in oceans, lakes and rivers. This sunscreen is free of harsh chemicals that are linked to coral bleaching. If a sunscreen is reef friendly, it will typically say so on the bottle. If you’re still not sure, check to see if the sunscreen contains oxybenzone and octinoxate. These are two UV-blocking ingredients that are harmful to coral reefs.

  • Follow the rules and regulations

When you visit the Great Barrier Reef, all of the rules and regulations are put in place for a specific reason. Don’t touch the coral, because it can get damaged or break off. Some of the tougher coral can also cut you, so you’ll protect yourself as well, by just avoiding contact altogether.

As with all places in nature, it’s also important to leave no trace. Be sure you don’t drop trash into the ocean. You want to leave everything pristine, just like you found it.

Support nonprofits like the Coral Nature Program

There are various nonprofits working hard to help the Great Barrier Reef heal. They work on crucial projects such as planting coral and helping the reef to be more resilient. You can support nonprofits such as the Coral Nature Program to help with the continuation of research and restoration projects.

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward began with a passion for travel and turned it into a thriving tourism business. He co-founded Sightseeing Tours Australia after starting out as a tour guide in Melbourne. Cameron delights in helping visitors get the most from their trip to Australia. Whether he's leading tours or writing about his favourite places, Cameron loves sharing his local insight with fellow travellers.

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