If you were planning on visiting the Great Barrier Reef, you might want to get on that soon.
A study published in the journal Nature on Wednesday found that the colorful species of coral that comprise the reef have had a harder time reproducing, thanks to warming ocean waters. After a major "coral bleaching" event in 2017, National Geographic explained, the reproductive ability of the Great Barrier Reef's coral was down by as much as 89 percent. And now, the study's results predict that it could take as long as 10 years for the reef to recover — if not even longer, if more bleaching events occur.
Not only is the coral population receding drastically, but the balance of different coral species is also changing, The Guardian reported. Acropora, the dominant species in the Great Barrier Reef, declined by 93 percent in the last two years. The changing ecosystem means it's likely that the reef will never be the same. "If you change the mix of babies, you change the mix that they grow up to be," explained Terry Hughes, the study's lead author.
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"We've always anticipated that climate change would shift the mix of coral," Hughes said, but it's happening at a far faster rate than expected. Read more about the new study at National Geographic.
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