Latest overview of current conditions

Each summer, we assess the health of reefs, as this part of the year poses a greater risk of extreme weather, particularly heat waves, cyclones and flooding.

Stressful conditions, such as excess heat or reduced salinity, can lead to coral bleaching and/or coral disease outbreaks, while poor water quality may make coral more susceptible to bleaching and lead to greater numbers of coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish.

Update 13: 6 May 2016

Environmental conditions

The 2015-16 El Niño is in its last stages. Recent changes in the tropical Pacific Ocean and atmosphere, combined with current climate model outlooks, suggest the likelihood of La Niña forming later in 2016 is about 50 per cent.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology, mean sea surface temperatures for April over the Great Barrier Reef were the highest on record (since 1900). This follows the warmest February and March on record. As at 6 May, sea surface temperatures are still much warmer than average for this time of year.

The Bureau of Meteorology's May to July Outlook indicates warmer than average temperatures in the tropical north and roughly equal chances of a wetter or drier three months.

Our table of observations and forecasts provides more detailed information.

Coral reef health reports

The current mass bleaching is worse than the previous worst bleaching event on the Reef in 2002 — this is because of the extent and severity of bleaching.

Over in-water 2000 surveys have been conducted on 163 reefs within the Marine Park this summer. Since 1 March 2016, 91 per cent of surveys have recorded some levels of bleaching (either severe, moderate or minor).

Although bleaching has been the largest impact to the Reef this summer, crown-of-thorns starfish predation and coral disease continue to threaten coral health. As a result, some reefs are subject to cumulative impacts of all three disturbances.

Marine Park managers and scientists are continuing to conduct underwater surveys and monitor heat stress through satellites and temperature loggers.

Want to help us keep an Eye on the Reef?

Find out more about how you can get involved in our monitoring programs.