Reef health

Updated: 12 April 2017

We’re focusing our efforts on understanding the impact of two significant events on the Great Barrier Reef — coral bleaching and severe tropical cyclone Debbie.

On 10 March 2017 the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority confirmed mass coral bleaching is occurring on the Great Barrier Reef for the second consecutive year. On 28 March 2017 tropical cyclone Debbie crossed the coast at Airlie Beach.

Staff from GBRMPA took part in aerial surveys conducted by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and the results confirm the extent and severity of the 2017 bleaching event. The Centre of Excellence’s map below shows the 2017 bleaching footprint differs from 2016 in that it extends further south in the Marine Park.

In-water surveys and other reports from the community and our science and tourism partners have also been used to determine the health of the Reef following these events.

As we saw last year, bleaching and mortality can be highly variable across the 344,000 square kilometre Marine Park — an area bigger than Italy. The Marine Park is still home to spectacular coral and abundant marine life, and the Great Barrier Reef remains an iconic natural wonder.

This bleaching highlights the importance of urgent global action on climate change. It’s vital the world acts to implement the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It also highlights the critical importance of the work under the Reef 2050 Plan and the Authority’s ongoing management to build Reef resilience — such as zoning and controlling coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish.

Anyone out on the water can help protect the Reef by following the zoning rules and responsible reef practices. Fishers can help by leaving plant-eating fish to help control seaweed, which in turn provides space for coral larvae to settle and create new colonies.

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Map showing coeal bleaching in 2016 and 2017

Timeline and actions

Key timeline and activities for understanding how coral bleaching and severe tropical cyclone Debbie impacted on the Reef.

Read more on Timeline and actions

Coral bleaching news releases

News releases by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority on coral bleaching.

Read more on Coral bleaching news releases

Current conditions on the Reef

Summary and detailed information on sea surface temperature, tropical cyclones, rainfall levels and flood plumes to date.

Read more on Current conditions on the Reef

2016 coral bleaching event

Mass coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef in 2016 was triggered by record-breaking sea surface temperatures.

Read more on 2016 coral bleaching event

Frequently asked questions

Find answers to your questions about bleaching on the Reef.

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Coral bleaching resources

Coral bleaching resources: Image gallery, bleaching infographic, informative video and map of observed bleaching.

Read more on Coral bleaching resources

Responsible reef practices – Spearfishing

Fishers and spearfishers should consider leaving plant-eating fish to help control seaweed and enable coral larvae to settle and create new colonies.

Read more on Responsible reef practices – Spearfishing

Student and teacher resources

Educational materials, including teaching units and a poster series, for primary and secondary school students.

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Eye on the Reef program

Eye on the Reef is a monitoring program that enables anyone who visits the Reef to contribute to its long-term protection.

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Report your sightings

Download the free Eye on the Reef smart phone app from iTunes/Google play app store or you can use the desktop app to report your Reef sightings.

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Coral Bleaching Response Plan

The Coral Bleaching Response Plan was developed to meet the challenge of responding to coral bleaching events.

Read more on Coral Bleaching Response Plan

Sea surface temperatures

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology provides information on sea surface temperatures for monitoring coral bleaching.

Read more on Sea surface temperatures

ReefTemp

ReefTemp Next Generation is a set of high resolution mapping products that provide information on coral bleaching risk for the Great Barrier Reef region.

Read more on ReefTemp