Great Barrier Reef
A large piece of coral can be seen in the lagoon located on Lady Elliot Island and 80 kilometers north-east from the town of Bundaberg in Queensland, Australia, June 9, 2015. Reuters/David Gray

WWF-Australia recently released shocking images and a video of the impact of coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef. The once colourful and vibrant reef that attracted thousands of tourists worldwide has been reduced to a shady brown with slimy algae impacting the World Heritage Site like never before.

The photos were taken last month at Lizard Island off far north Queensland, where an estimated 22 percent of the reef is dead, and there is little to no chance of the corals recovering from the bleaching.

Watch “Attack of the slime” on the Great Barrier Reef here.

Source: YouTube/WWF-Australia

“The soft corals were still dying and the flesh of the animals was decomposing and dripping off the reef structure,” Richard Vevers, from XL Catlin Seaview Survey told the ABC.

Vevers added that only a few weeks after the bleaching started, the hard corals were dead and covered in algae. It seemed that they have been dead for years. The smell of rotting animals was hard for Vevers to forget after he dived into the reef.

The dramatic video and photos of the bleaching by WWF-Australia is a stark reminder of Australia’s need to make a rapid transition to clean energy. Richard Leck from WWF-Australia said that the images and video show what is going to happen to other parts of the reef if action is not taken now. He called the coral bleaching event a national emergency.

“This is what's happening right now to 22 percent of coral on the Great Barrier Reef. This is a sad reminder of the impact of global warming. Our political leaders should be treating this as a national emergency,” Leck said.

Leck added that it is still possible to turn the situation around. Apart from shifting to clean and renewable energy, it is also important for authorities to “ build reef resilience by reducing runoff pollution from farms and land clearing,” Leck said in a WWF statement.

Watch the dramatic footage of Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching here.

Source: YouTube WWF-Australia