Australia’s Great Barrier Reef loses half of coral cover

Washington: Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system, has lost half of its coral cover in the past 27 years, a study revealed Monday.

Three factors were particularly responsible for the loss. Intense tropical cyclones, coral-consuming crown-of-thorns starfish and coral bleaching events, Xinhua reported.

The storms caused massive damage to the central and southern parts of the reef, while two severe coral bleaching events have had major detrimental impacts.

“This finding is based on the most comprehensive reef monitoring programme in the world,” said Peter Doherty, a scholar at the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

“The programme started broad-scale surveillance of more than 100 reefs in 1985 and from 1993 it has incorporated more detailed annual surveys of 47 reefs,” he said.