Officials have verified another huge bleaching event is devastating Australia’s Great Barrier Reef on Friday, March 25. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, which has been conducting aerial surveys, declared the report. It recently issued a warning that water temperatures in certain places of the reef were up to 4 degrees Celsius above the March norm. Two United Nations (UN) scientists are now on a reef-monitoring expedition in Queensland. The Australian Conservation Foundation described the confirmation of another mass bleaching as “truly heartbreaking.” “These repeated bleaching events have hit the tourism industry hard and are a blow to everyone who loves this incredible natural wonder, which is home to a vast array of sea creatures,” the organization said in a statement.

Bleaching occurs when stressed corals expel the algae that give them color and life. They can recover, but only if the circumstances allow it. This bleaching incident that happened in the same year as a La Niña weather phenomenon raises significant concerns. Typically, a La Niña delivers milder weather to Australia. It is the fourth time in six years that such severe and extensive damage has been discovered due to warm sea temperatures. The first mass bleaching episode transpired in 1998 and was detected again in 2002, 2016, 2017, and 2020. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems, stretching over 2,300 kilometers (1,400 miles) off Australia’s northeast coast. If the world’s greatest reef system is to survive, scientists say immediate action on climate change is required.