The Great Barrier Reef is not dead, despite what you may have read.
A heavily read obituary from Outside Magazine (more than 1.14 million people have visited the depressing obit) declared the reef dead.
“The Great Barrier Reef of Australia passed away in 2016 after a long illness. It was 25 million years old,” the obituary started.
But a study published Thursday by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority concluded that 22 percent of the reef “died due to the worst bleaching event on record.” The survey was conducted between March and June. That’s pretty bad.
But it is too soon to write obituaries, scientists told The Huffington Post.
“The message should be that it isn’t too late … not we should all give up,” Terry Hughes, the director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, told the Huffington Post in an email.
The obituary may have been intended to raise alarm about the plight of the reef, but many are taking it literally.
Great Barrier Reef dead at 25 million, reads the New York Post’s headline.
Great Barrier Reef pronounced dead by scientists, according to a blog post about the obit in The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash.
The corals depend on algae, which give the corals much of their color. But when the coral becomes too hot, it expels the algae, leaving the coral white. This loss means bleached corals are essentially starving, according to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
Higher sea temperatures are leading to more frequent and larger bleaching events. The 2016 bleaching event is worse than 1998 and 2002, when up to 50 percent of the reef experienced bleaching.