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Climate
Major coral bleaching event in 2016 at Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Oregon State University/ Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Great Barrier Reef in Danger of Mass Coral Bleaching Events Every Two Years

The Great Barrier Reef—Australia's remarkable but imperiled natural wonder—is under risk of repeat coral bleaching events unless greenhouse gas emissions are slashed, Australia's Climate Council warned Thursday.

The new report, Lethal Consequences: Climate Change Impacts on the Great Barrier Reef, determined that by 2034, the extreme ocean temperatures that led to the mass bleaching events of 2016 and 2017 may occur every two years if emissions continue on current trends.

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Coral reef outcrop part of the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge and the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. Lindsey Kramer / USFWS / CC BY-NC 2.0

Hawaii to Approve Landmark Ban on Coral-Damaging Sunscreens

Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed a bill Tuesday prohibiting the sale of sunscreen that contains chemicals considered harmful to ocean ecosystems, including coral reefs.

The Aloha State is the first in the nation to enact such a law.

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Climate
"The Coralarium," Jason deCaires Taylor's latest underwater sculpture, in the Maldives. Jason deCaires Taylor

Sculptures Under the Sea—and on the Front Lines of Climate Change

By Patrick Rogers

Famous for its turquoise waters and spectacularly diverse animal and plant life, the Maldives also bears the unwelcome distinction of being the country most vulnerable to rising sea levels. The island chain in the Indian Ocean is the flattest nation on earth, with most of its land lying less than five feet above average sea level―and large areas in imminent danger of flooding.

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Climate
Coral bleaching like this (in the Great Barrier Reef) is killing the largest reef in Japan. Oregon State University / CC BY-SA 2.0

Only 1% of Japan’s Largest Reef Still Healthy After Historic Bleaching Catastrophe

In a sobering reminder of the impact of climate change on marine biodiversity, a survey by the Japanese government found that barely more than one percent of the coral in the country's largest coral reef is healthy, AFP reported Friday.

The reef, located in the Sekisei Lagoon near Okinawa, has suffered mass coral bleaching events due to rising sea temperatures in 1998, 2001, 2007 and 2016.

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Animals
Bleached corals. NOAA / Bernardo Vargas-Ángel

Hawaii Lawmakers Pass Ban on Coral-Damaging Sunscreen

Lawmakers in Hawaii passed a bill Tuesday prohibiting the sale of sunscreens that are harmful to ocean ecosystems, including coral reefs.

The bill now heads to Governor David Ige for his signature. If signed, Hawaii will ban these sunscreens starting Jan. 1, 2021 and become the first state in the nation to enact such a law.

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Northern Great Barrier Reef, October 2016. Greg Torda / ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Australia's $379M Plan to Save Great Barrier Reef Raises Skepticism

The Australian government announced Sunday its largest investment in the Great Barrier Reef to date. More than $500 million Australian dollars (US $379 million) will go towards helping the highly vulnerable site that's under threat from climate change.

However, some have criticized the move as a "band-aid plan" as the fossil fuel-friendly government promotes the building of new coal mines, which fuels global warming that harms the reef.

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Climate
A.millepora in the Great Barrier Reef. Petra Lundgren, Juan C Vera, Lesa Peplow, Stephanie Manel and Madeleine JH van Oppen

Hope for Great Barrier Reef? New Study Shows Genetic Diversity of Coral Could Extend Our Chance to Save It

A study published Wednesday had some frightening news for the Great Barrier Reef—the iconic marine ecosystem is at "unprecedented" risk of collapse due to climate change after a 2016 heat wave led to the largest mass coral bleaching event in the reef's history.

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A turtle swims over the bleached coral at Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef in February 2016. The Ocean Agency / XL Catlin Seaview Survey / Richard Vevers

Great Barrier Reef at ‘Unprecedented’ Risk of Collapse After Major Bleaching Event

By Daisy Dunne

The record-breaking marine heatwave in 2016 across the Great Barrier Reef has left much of the coral ecosystem at an "unprecedented" risk of collapse, research shows.

A new study published in Nature finds that the surge in sea temperatures during the 2016 bleaching event led to an immediate and long-lasting die-off of coral.

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Animals

Scientists Battle Mysterious Pathogen Destroying Coral Reefs Off Florida Coast

By Robynne Boyd

Off the coast of Broward County in southeast Florida, a 330-year-old coral colony has withered in the water thanks to a mysterious pathogen. At the height of its health, this slow-growing variety of coral, known as mountainous star, looked like a car-size brown mushroom cap scored by ridges and valleys and colored with splashes of fluorescent green. Today the countless minuscule sea-anemone-like polyps that form the colony have turned white and died, laying bare the skeletal structure below.

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