Even if you're not wildly familiar with the ocean or the environment, you have probably heard that the Great Barrier Reef (and all of the million species of coral that live within it) is disappearing. But thanks to a recent discovery, that may not be entirely true anymore.
According to an article from the New Zealand Herald, a nonprofit organization has reported "signs of recovery" in some areas of the Great Barrier Reef thanks to a more mild 2017-2018 summer.
This is in great contrast to overall warming of the ocean due to high temperatures in 2016-2017 that in turn greatly contributed to bleaching and overall death of the Great Barrier Reef.
According to NBC, roughly 50 percent of the coral in the Great Barrier Reef died in 2016 and 2017 due to the record high temperatures. That statistic is staggering when you consider the vast size of the structure.
At almost 1,400 miles long, the reef is the world's largest coral reef system and is made up of 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands. It's massive.
When you think about half of the coral in that entire structure dying, it's simply overwhelming.
Now, the Reef & Rainforest Research Center organization (in conjunction with the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators) is stating that bleached reefs are currently showing notable signs of improvement. Representatives of the organizations also said that claims that the entire reef is dead from bleaching is just totally untrue.
However, even with certain signs of recovery, officials noted that optimum conditions and mild temperatures are still necessary to keep the reef recovering steadily.
While the Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest reef (and such a natural anomaly that it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site), there are still more reefs being discovered. Take, for example, the massive deep-sea reef discovered off the coast of South Carolina recently.
While bleaching and rising temperatures are certainly unsettling when it comes to oceans and coral reef health, discoveries like that of the South Carolina reef and recovering coral in the Great Barrier Reef are proof that where there is science, research and hard work, there is at least a little bit of hope.