More than 90% of the coral reefs that make up the Great Barrier Reef have experienced bleaching damage.

This is the fourth mass bleaching event to happen in the Australian reef since 2016 and the sixth since 1998. However, it’s the first time a bleaching event has occurred in a La Niña year, a period of lower temperatures.

Bleaching happens when corals experience stress from above-average water temperatures. This causes them to expel the algae, their main source of food, from their skin. Algae is what gives corals their colour, which is why they turn white during these incidents.

Researchers have labelled this mass bleaching event “devastating news“, arguing it was “yet more evidence” that governments need to tackle climate change.

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