Coral Bleaching in the Coral Sea
The Coral Sea hosts one of the most diverse coral reef ecosystems in the world. It is bound by the GBR, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, and encompasses several biogeographic regions of significant conservation value. Approximately 990000 km2 of the Coral Sea covers Australia’s Economic Exclusion Zone and was recently declared a Commonwealth Marine Reserve in recognition of its unique physical, ecological and heritage values.
The 2015-16 summer resulted in extensive coral bleaching in the Torres Strait, northern and central Great Barrier Reef, northern New South Wales and coastal NW Western Australia. The National Coral Bleaching Network was established in November 2015 to record the extent and severity of coral bleaching throughout Australian waters.
In partnership with Parks Australia, two researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies joined the MV Phoenix for a 30-day cruise to assess the severity of bleaching at 9 reefs in the Coral Sea. Our surveys provide detailed information on coral cover and bleaching severity for individual coral colonies.