Once again, scientists have revealed that the Great Barrier Reef is pretty badly screwed.
This time, the news came in the form of a revelation that mass bleaching has killed 35% of coral on the northern and central reef.
Scientists from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies said the current coral bleaching event is much more extreme than any seen before.
"We found on average that 35% of the corals are now dead or dying on 84 reefs that we surveyed along the northern and central sections of the Great Barrier Reef, between Townsville and Papua New Guinea,” said the centre's director, Terry Hughes.
The scientists also released photos of coral in the area showing how badly much of the reef has been damaged. We've added some characters from Finding Nemo, because why not.
Here's Nemo, lost and trying to find his way home, but everything looks different now because the coral is dead.
“The reef is no longer as resilient as it once was, and it’s struggling to cope with three bleaching events in just 18 years," said John Pandolfi from the centre.
Coral bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, like heightened sea temperatures, cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, called "zooxanthellae", which turns the coral white.
“It is critically important now to bolster the resilience of the reef, and to maximise its natural capacity to recover,” he said.
Here are Marlin and Dory searching for Nemo in the desolate wasteland that is now much of the reef.
In slightly better news for the reef, Australia's Labor opposition party today announced it would spend $500 million over five years to protect the reef if it wins the election on 2 July.
The $500 million plan, $377 million of which is new money, includes funding for science and research, water quality and land management, and a more coordinated approach to saving the reef.
Here's Bruce the shark, trying and failing to hide behind some coral because his home has been destroyed by the ravages of climate change.
In the May budget, the Coalition government dedicated $171 million to the reef, all of which was diverted from other areas within the environment portfolio.
The Greens have welcomed Labor's announcement, but say it fails to address the main cause of coral bleaching: climate change.
"While increased funding on reef water quality programs is welcome, the amount committed is too small and is completely undermined by Labor and the Coalition’s continued approvals of giant coal mines, fossil fuel subsidies to big polluters and cuts to clean energy funding," said Queensland senator for the Greens Larissa Waters.
"Both old parties are championing mega coal mines and gas fracking to export out through the Great Barrier Reef that will worsen water quality through dredging and shipping, and will exacerbate global warming to cook the reef’s corals."