“Coral babies” in the Great Barrier Reef disappearing

Apr 04, 2019, 8:01 AM EDT
(Source: Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble/flickr)
(Source: Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble/flickr)

The mass bleaching events in 2016 and 2017 ravaged two-thirds of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and the repercussions of the assault still linger on. According to a new study, the number of “coral babies” in the world’s largest reef system has plummeted by 90 percent — a decline scientists attribute to warming waters.

The devastating bleaching events, triggered by climate change, not only stripped the reef system of its ability to replenish itself but also altered the mix of constituent baby coral species, notes the BBC. Acropora, a species that thrives in healthy reef systems and provides habitat for thousands of other species, has shrunk by 93 percent.

Co-author Professor Morgan Pratchett says that the findings are alarming as the reefs that were once considered “too big to fail” may perish if hit by a fifth or sixth mass bleaching event in the coming decade, writes The Independent.

Co-author Professor Andrew Baird warned that the trend cannot be reversed by local actions and would require serious efforts against climate change.