Officials from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority confirmed that another massive bleaching event is destroying Australia’s Great Barrier Reef on Friday, March 25. It recently issued a warning that water temperatures on the reef were up to 4 degrees Celsius higher than what usually is in March in some areas. Two United Nations (UN) scientists are currently on a reef-monitoring mission in Queensland. The Australian Conservation Foundation described the incident 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 added.

Bleaching happens when stressed corals release the algae that give them color and life. They can recover, but only if the conditions permit it. This bleaching incident happened with a La Niña weather phenomenon, raising serious concerns. A La Niña is known for bringing milder weather to Australia. It is the fourth time in six years that rising sea temperatures have caused such severe and widespread devastation. The first mass bleaching event occurred in 1998, followed in 2002, 2016, 2017, and 2020. Scientists believe climate change must be addressed immediately to save the world’s largest reef system.