The coral reefs around the coast of Australia are among the longest in the world. The largest of these, and perhaps the most famous, is the Great Barrier Reef, which stretches for more than 2,300 kilometers along the country’s northeastern coast.
But also further south, for example around Tasmania and the southern parts of New South Wales and Victoria, you can find unique corals with species that are only found in those areas.
The researchers have now collected data from three different Australian monitoring programs on coral reefs around Australia, she writes Channel 7 News Australia.
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Characterized by heat waves
The results show that many of the basic types are decreasing dramatically. The study, published in the journal Nature, confirmed, among other things, global warming.
According to the study, 57 percent of the 1,057 most common catfish species, including both tropical fish and invertebrate species, examined suffered a decline from 2008 to 2021.
It is said that the decline of the species was particularly great in years marked by heat waves and where the water had risen by more than half a degree.
The researchers behind the study claim that as many as 28 species unique to Australia could be classified as “endangered” after suffering declines of more than 80 per cent.
In addition, 110 species can be considered threatened with a decrease of more than 50 percent, and 158 species are vulnerable with a decrease of 30 percent, writes 7News.
On the other hand, the study also showed that 55 coral species have not experienced much change over the past decade.
This applies, among other things, to groups of tropical corals. This species is said to have increased in the northeast, but decreased in the northwest.
However, the researchers caution that these results must be seen in the context of an overall decline over the past 45 years.
Study: serious damage
Among them is study author Graham Edgar of the University of Tasmania.
He believes results should be seen along with the big picture.
Edgar tells 7 News that there is no systematic monitoring of most of the species included in the latest analysis, and therefore losses are not controlled.
– We have a particularly severe toll on some cold-water species outside of Tasmania, which are fundamentally unrecognized and managed, Edgar explains.
He says that the cold waters around Tasmania, off Victoria and southern parts of New South Wales are changing as a result of climate, and that water temperatures in these areas have increased by about 1.5 degrees since the 1940s.
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– When temperatures rise, you get warm-water species from northern regions moving south and crowding out species in southern regions.
South of Tasmania, there is nowhere for species to decline, and species that are not found anywhere else in the world are becoming extinct, according to Edgar, who says that nearly 70 percent of the species on the Great Southern Reef are found just off the Australian coast.
In a 2021 study, it was shown that 98 percent of the famous Great Barrier Reef is affected by coral bleaching.
In 2022, a bleak State of the Environment report is presented showing how Australia’s unique diversity of species is at risk of extinction after a series of bushfires, droughts, global warming and habitat loss.
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