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ReefChat: Beyond the Bleaching

This week we saw the premiere of ReefChat, the Foundation’s new web series all about the Reef and the work being done to save our irreplaceable icon for future generations.

Right now, our Reef is facing its most widespread bleaching on record, but there is still hope. 

The Foundation’s Chief Scientist Professor Peter Mumby and Managing Director Anna Marsden chatted live, answering your questions about bleaching and what’s being done to save the Reef and build its resilience to bleaching.

The questions came thick and fast as our panel explained coral bleaching basics before looking at what will happen beyond the current bleaching, addressing some common misconceptions along the way.

“It isn’t true that 60% of the Reef’s corals died during this event, we don’t know how much coral has died yet, what we do know is that…a quarter of the reefs show severe bleaching. The definition of severe bleaching is that more than 60% of the corals are showing bleaching symptoms in those areas.” Professor Peter Mumby

Professor Mumby set the record straight on reports that 60% of the entire Reef’s corals had died during this event. He also stressed that bleached corals are not dead corals and there is still hope for the Reef.

“We're here to make a difference, we serve the Reef. So every project we have – and we have about sixty four projects right now – is intended to make a difference.”  says Managing Director Anna Marsden.

“Reefs only get busy once a year” Managing Director Anna Marsden said while highlighting the importance of the Foundation’s Coral IVF project and how it’s turbocharging corals’ ability to reproduce.

“Reefs are a frontline ecosystem in a changing climate and even if we do get our act together on climate change, we will still lose so much of the world’s reefs….the Reef Trust Partnership goes to the heart of building this resilience and reducing the severity of an event.” said Anna Marsden explaining the importance of the Foundation’s work.

“We must rise to this amazing challenge. The Reef is not dead. But she's certainly facing challenges. And for the first time in her existence, she needs humans to step up and play our role.” said Anna Marsden answering the question of what’s the point of saving the Reef if it’s already dead.

Professor Mumby had this message of hope “I’ve been looking at reefs closely for 30 years and one thing I have learnt is that they keep on surprising you with their resilience.”

Here’s some exclusive footage that Professor Mumby took during a research trip to Agincourt Reef near Cairns in March 2020 during the bleaching event showing some corals were completely unaffected while others experienced different levels of bleaching.