Mass bleaching has killed on average 35% of corals on the northern and central Great Barrier Reef, according to the latest estimates.
Scientists based their estimate on surveys on the World Heritage listed area over the last few months, says the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.
“This year is the third time in 18 years that the Great Barrier Reef has experienced mass bleaching due to global warming, and the current event is much more extreme than we’ve measured before,” says professor Terry Hughes at James Cook University.
The world’s coral reefs have been hit by bleaching said to be caused by warmer sea waters and exacerbated by the El Nino weather event.
The latest estimate comes as information on the damage was deleted from a United Nations report into the issue because of Australian government concerns that it would scare off tourists.
Watch footage showing extensive coral bleaching on the northern Great Barrier Reef as seen from a helicopter during scientific surveys:
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