“Earlier this year, the Great Barrier Reef was devastated by the largest mass bleaching event ever seen — as record-warm ocean temperatures turned large swaths of this vibrant 1,400-mile habitat into a ghastly white boneyard.
Now scientists have finally tallied up the damage. Data released Monday by Australian researchers shows that an unprecedented fraction of the shallow-water coral in the pristine northern part of the reef has died, with average mortality rates of 67 percent.
The brighter news is that the southern sections fared much better, with just 6 percent of coral dead in the central section and 1 percent dead in the south. “The[se] corals have now regained their vibrant color, and these reefs are in good condition,” said Professor Andrew Baird of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in a release.”