Marine heatwaves are having a marked impact on coral reef systems off the Pilbara coast. A CSIRO and University of Western Australia study in progress found bleaching and decimation of ancient porite corals - many up to 400 years old - in a recent visit to Barrow Island. The oceans around Australia were unusually warm in 2013. Globally the deep oceans are also continuing to warm.
“We suspect this bleaching event was due to marine heatwaves that occurred in the region over the past few summers, and to see it up close was sobering,” said Dr Russ Babcock, CSIRO lead scientist, “But to offset this loss, some reefs only a short distance north showed much less damage and will continue to contribute to a healthy ecosystem."