In an all-too-rare pleasant surprise for the state of source water quality around the world, scientists have found that Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is trending in a healthy direction following years of bleaching and other harmful events to its ecosystem.
“The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) announced that new coral had populated the northern and central parts of the damaged Great Barrier Reef, according to the AIMS 2021 annual report,” the Daily Caller reported. “AIMS’ survey of the reef’s health found that Acropora coral levels at the Great Barrier Reef, one of the Seven Wonders of the world, were at their highest since the organization began monitoring the ecosystem 36 years ago.”
The health of the Great Barrier Reef is a prominent gauge for the overall health of our planet, and the impacts that trends like global warming and pollution are having on the world’s source water. Many scientists were surprised to see this latest recovery, as the reef — along with many of the world’s drinking water sources — has been imperiled by these trends recently.
“The Great Barrier Reef has been hit hard by rising temperatures in recent years,” The Washington Post reported. “In 2016 and 2017, underwater heat waves triggered coral bleaching events so severe that scientists worried the reef would never look the same again.”
Despite the good news, in some regions, the reef’s coral was found to be subsiding. And Acropora is notoriously fragile and susceptible to boom and bust cycles. But the AIMS report noted that the findings indicate the Great Barrier Reef has been surprisingly resilient in the face of bleaching.
“This recovery has occurred despite the latest two mass coral bleaching events in 2020 and 2022, which underlines that widespread coral bleaching does not necessarily lead to coral mortality,” the report stated, per the Daily Caller.
While scientists have been quick to caution that we must remain vigilant in our protection of the Great Barrier Reef and all source water habitats, particularly as stressors like drought and global warming grow, this latest survey offers some hope that our marine ecosystems will remain resilient in the face of these pressures if we continue to protect them.
“The results of the institute’s annual survey show that the reef ‘is still vibrant and still resilient, and it can bounce back from disturbances if it gets the chance,’” according to the Post.