Just this month, a report began making rounds on the internet, basically saying that the Great Barrier Reef is pronounced dead. As many viral phenomenon, information like these can easily spread without regard as to the source, but a good look and some research on the issue brings a different story.
Is the Great Barrier Reef dead? Well, the short answer is “no.” For the long answer, we have to turn to a fact-checking website to elaborate the debunking of this claim. But first things first: the article originated on an online magazine called Outside Online, a portal that features stories about the great outdoors. They presented their case in an obituary format, which strongly suggested the severity of the situation.
The article in question pointed out how the largest coral system situated in Australia is dying because of the ocean’s acidity and changes in the seawater’s temperature. Being an obituary, the dramatic hook is that the massive coral system was pronounced dead, and “passed away in 2016, being 25 million years old.”
However, snopes.com pointed out that this assessment was “too bleak” and not exactly representative of the actual state of the whole Reef. Tagging the report as “false,” the website presented evidence that suggests how the Reef cannot actually be “pronounced dead.”
While there have been several reports suggesting that there have been damage to the Reef (especially mass bleaching), these are apparently isolated cases and not enough to proclaim such a massive ecosystem dead. These events were well-documented and sourced in the said article. However, yes, the Reef is not just one living thing but a massive ecosystem comprised of many individual organisms.
It would make no sense for the Great Barrier Reef to be pronounced dead when only a part of it is damaged. Still, that is not to say that the damage is not real. Authorities are actually taking steps to reverse and/or stop the effects of the bleaching entirely. This is also why the article is particularly hated as it is misleading; it undermines the efforts of the people who actually work to preserve the Reef.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons