Media Release Climate Change

Grave fears for our Great Barrier Reef as another widespread coral bleaching alert issued

February 20, 2020

News that our Great Barrier Reef is in danger again from a possible mass bleaching event caused by global warming has been greeted with dismay and anger by the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).

Reports today have David Wachenfeld, the Chief Scientist at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), stating there has been significant bleaching on reefs in the far north and the authority is on alert for a possible mass bleaching event in the coming weeks.

AMCS Great Barrier Reef campaigner Shani Tager said: “Our beautiful Reef is again under serious threat from the climate crisis.

“This is a deeply concerning forecast with hot waters bad news for our Reef, the thousands of incredible marine species that depend on it and the 64,000 jobs that it supports.

“The last thing our Reef, and the coastal communities that it supports, needs right now is another summer of mass bleaching.

“Unfortunately we are a whisker away from bleaching disaster yet again because of global warming driven marine heatwaves.”

Ms Tager urged the Australian and Queensland governments to put serious measures on the table to cut pollution and deal with global warming.

“The Australian and Queensland governments are custodians of our beautiful Reef and it’s past time for them to deal with the biggest threat to its future,” Ms Tager said.

“As underwater heatwaves threaten once again to cook our corals, our politicians must move beyond half baked plans to tackle global warming.

“It couldn’t be clearer, burning dirty fossil fuels causes global warming, leading to coral bleaching and putting the health of our Reef in serious danger.

“Drought, bushfires and now the spectre of mass coral bleaching – what more needs to happen before our governments take the climate crisis seriously?”

Ms Tager also called on the Federal government to ensure that GBRMPA has the resources needed to manage and monitor the situation so the scale of any devastating coral bleaching event is properly understood by scientists.

The bleaching alert comes just months before the World Heritage Committee meets to assess Australia’s management of the Reef, with implications for the tourism industry.


In 2016 and again in 2017, a massive underwater heatwave caused half of all our Reef’s shallow water corals to bleach and die.

The footprint of this unprecedented back-to-back bleaching stretches along two-thirds of the length of our Reef – from Torres Strait down to Townsville – a 1,500 kms area nearly the distance between Sydney and Adelaide.

Alerts have been issued by the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coral Reef Watch and show ocean temperatures higher than the maximum monthly mean.

The outlook for our Reef in the weeks ahead does not look positive with NOAA predicting that areas will be at the two highest coral bleaching ratings for up to eight weeks.


Media contact: Jo Manning 0405 567228 / [email protected]