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Great Barrier Reef sees largest coral die-off ever

A mass bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef this year killed more corals than ever before, scientists said on Tuesday.
●    The 2,300-kilometre long reef — the world’s biggest — suffered its most severe bleaching in recorded history, due to warming sea temperatures during March and April.
●    Further south over the vast central and southern regions, including major tourist areas around Cairns and the Whitsunday Islands, there was a much lower toll.
●    Bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, such as warmer sea temperatures, cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour.
●    Algae are vital to the coral, which uses the organic products of photosynthesis to help it grow.
●    The loss of algae makes the host vulnerable to disease and means it will eventually die.
●    However, coral can recover if the water temperature drops and the algae are able to recolonise them.
●    Environmentalists blame the burning of fossil fuels for global warming and repeated calls for Australia to abandon coal mining to help prevent further bleaching disasters.

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