Australia's Great Barrier Reef has lost half its corals in 25 years

Australia's Great Barrier Reef has lost over half of its coral populations in the past three decades because of ocean warming, a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B published Wednesday finds.

It spans some 1,400 miles — making it the largest coral reef ecosystem in the world.

What they found: Researchers discovered that climate change is driving an increase in the frequency of reef disturbances, such as marine heatwaves.

"We found the number of small, medium and large corals on the Great Barrier Reef has declined by more than 50% since the 1990s," said study co-author Professor Terry Hughes, from CoralCoE, .

"The decline occurred in both shallow and deeper water, and across virtually all species — but especially in branching and table-shaped corals.

"Scientists are always trying to be careful, but if we don't act meaningfully in the next five years, we will not have vital and vibrant coral reefs as a legacy for future generations."

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