By Cassandra Gallegos
Contrary to popular belief from major news outlets, the Great Barrier Reef located in Queensland, Australia is not completely destroyed. In fact, only a fourth of the reef’s coral has been lost.
In an article from Outside Magazine, writer Rowan Jacobsen exaggerated the current status of the coral reef and stated that it “passed away in 2016 after a long illness” in her article that was modeled as an obituary for the coral reef.
Her statement grabbed the attention from many news outlets such as The Sun in Britain and the New York Post in the United States, which have been quick to mourn the assumed death of the coral reef.
Despite these reactions, the obituary was written in a satirical manner. Chief of the Coral Reef Ecosystem Program at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, Russell Brainard, told the Huffington Post that those who are not educated on the topic “are going to take it at face value that the Great Barrier Reef is dead.”
Many scientists believe that the coral reef is under severe stress. Studies conducted in April by the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies revealed that El Niño and climate change resulted in the most severe coral bleaching on record, in which 93 percent of the reef has been affected.
About 78 percent of the reef’s coral remains alive, as mentioned by The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Scientists remain positive that parts of the coral reef will recover, but may need help from genetic re-
According to coral biologist Ruth Gates from the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, the solution is in introducing a new breed of coral that has a high resistance to bleaching that would also allow reefs to be able to withstand changes in climate.
Multiple experiments have been conducted to find new coral hybrids that can withstand increasing temperatures.