Great Barrier Reef Suffers Significant Damage

Category: Science/Environment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. immense / ɪˈmɛns / (adj) – very big; immeasurable

    The boat suffered immense damage from the storm.

  2. unfavorable / ʌnˈfeɪvərəbl / (adj) – harmful or not good for something

    We’re canceling the field trip tomorrow due to unfavorable weather conditions.

  3. perish / ˈpɛrɪʃ / (v) – to die or be destroyed

    Several fish perish due to dynamite fishing.

  4. large-scale / ˌlɑːdʒˈskeɪl / (adj) – involving a huge amount or area of something

    The oil spill in the ocean caused a large-scale catastrophe that spread to several islands.

  5. outgrowth / ˈaʊtˌgroʊθ / (n) – result or product of something

    Among the outgrowths of climate change are intense storms and larger forest fires.


Read the text below.

Scientists have reported immense coral decline in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), the largest coral reef system in the world.

The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) published a report on the GBR’s current condition as part of the reef’s long-term monitoring program. The report pointed out that the reef’s health has significantly deteriorated over the past two years.

Particularly, the amount of living corals covering the reef has considerably declined. The GBR’s northern and central regions had lost around half of their coral cover. Likewise, the corals in the southern region decreased from 33% to 25%.

According to the report, one of the main reasons behind the decline is consecutive coral bleaching events in the reef. Bleaching occurs when levels in temperature or nutrients around corals become unsteady. As a result, corals become completely white. While corals can recover from bleaching, unfavorable conditions around them can cause them to perish.

The researchers noted that this was the first time large-scale bleaching events in the GBR had occurred in consecutive years. They expect that the outgrowths of climate change, such as warmer oceans, will make bleaching events more frequent and more severe. Thus, they fear that the GBR may not recover fast enough.

A marine scientist from AIMS called on the Australian government to consider the GBR’s condition as a national crisis.  She urged the government to protect the reef—along with the 64,000 jobs it supports—from further damage.

The GBR contributes about $6.4 billion to Australia’s economy through fishery, recreation, and tourism. It serves important functions such as protecting coastlines from destructive waves and storms. Additionally, it houses marine life and provides them with nutrients.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think the coral decline would have a significant impact on humans? Explain.
• Should the Australian government bear sole responsibility for the Great Barrier Reef? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• In your opinion, should governments place a higher priority on issues concerning marine life? Explain.
• How can awareness be raised about the effects of climate change on marine life? Discuss.