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Bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef corals near Cooktown, as taken last week by a survey team led by James Cook University's Professor Terry Hughes.CREDIT:VIA TERRY HUGHES

Australia - Great Barrier Reef hit by third mass bleaching event in five years

The third mass coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef in five years is under way, with central and southern regions more badly affected than in the 2016 and 2017 events. Key tourist sites have been spared.

Researchers surveyed more than 845 reefs from the Torres Strait southwards by air as of Wednesday with about 200 more to come in the southern end of the reef region by Friday.

Coral bleaching near Magnetic Island on the Great Barrier Reef. The bleaching  is the third such mass event in just five years.
Coral bleaching near Magnetic Island on the Great Barrier Reef. The bleaching is the third such mass event in just five years.CREDIT:KLARA LINDSTROM

Terry Hughes, the director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies who has helped lead the survey, said the scientists had seen enough to declare the bleaching was a major one.

Eight flights have been made so far over nine days with three more to come on Thursday and Friday.

Terry Hughes, the director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies who has helped lead the survey, said the scientists had seen enough to declare the bleaching was a major one.

Eight flights have been made so far over nine days with three more to come on Thursday and Friday.

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