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Great Barrier Reef pronounced dead by scientists

This photo shows before, March 2016, left, and after, May 2016, images of coral bleaching and death at Lizard Island on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Scientists say the world’s coral reefs are in peril.
 (XL Catlin Seaview Survey via Associated Press)
This photo shows before, March 2016, left, and after, May 2016, images of coral bleaching and death at Lizard Island on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Scientists say the world’s coral reefs are in peril. (XL Catlin Seaview Survey via Associated Press)

CLIMATE CHANGE -- "The Great Barrier Reef of Australia passed away in 2016 after a long illness. It was 25 million years old."

That startling first sentence leads a must-read obituary by  for Outside Magazine online.

"For most of its life, the reef was the world’s largest living structure, and the only one visible from space. It was 1,400 miles long, with 2,900 individual reefs and 1,050 islands. In total area, it was larger than the United Kingdom, and it contained more biodiversity than all of Europe combined. It harbored 1,625 species of fish, 3,000 species of mollusk, 450 species of coral, 220 species of birds, and 30 species of whales and dolphins. Among its many other achievements, the reef was home to one of the world’s largest populations of dugong and the largest breeding ground of green turtles."

The fate of this wonder of the world should sober us up and clear our heads.

No one knows if a serious effort at the time could have saved the reef, but it is clear that no such effort was made.

 

BUT NEVER FEAR, optimists -- here's a more hopeful perspective.

MORE READING: A comment on our Facebook page provided a link to this special report from The Guardian investigating how the reef has been devastated. The Great Barrier Reef: a catastrophe laid bare




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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