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Worst coral die-off recorded at Australia’s Great Barrief Reef

Scientists have recorded worst mass coral bleaching event on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It has killed more corals than ever before, sounding the alarm over the delicate ecosystem.

It is estimated nearly two-thirds of 2,300-kilometre long reef or 700 km stretch of coral in the Great Barrier Reef’s northern part have died in the past nine months.

This is the worst die-off ever recorded in Great Barrier Reef and also the largest ever recorded anywhere. However, the central and southern sections of the reef are fared far better, with only 6% and 1% of the coral dead, respectively.

What are Corals reefs?

  • Coral reefs result from the natural work of little polyps (few millimeters long) is budded on top of one another. They are the most biologically diverse ecosystems of the planet
  • Over centuries, shells (mostly made up of Calcium Carbonate) of these corals combine to form the exotic shapes of coral reefs.
  • Tiny differences in the anatomy of each polyp species mainly affect the shape of their shells and produce the exotic shapes of each reef.
  • Conditions required for growth of corals: Warm tropical oceans with minimum temperature of 20 degree. They are primarily located between 30 degree north and 25 degree south latitudes where water temperature favours the growth of coral organisms; Transparent parts of ocean bodies; Oceanic water must free of sedimentation; it should have relatively low salinity.

What is coral bleaching?

  • Coral bleaching causes corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour. It calcifies the corals to  turn into white.
  • Algae are vital to the coral, which uses the organic products of photosynthesis to help it grow. The loss of algae makes it vulnerable to disease and it will eventually die.
  • When a coral bleaches, it is not dead. They can recover if the water temperature drops and the algae are able to re-colonise them.
  • Reasons: It occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, such as warmer sea temperatures.
  • In recent times unusual warm ocean water is mainly heated by man-made climate change and the natural El Niño climate pattern.

About the Great Barrier Reef

  • It is the biggest coral reef system in the world composed of over 2,900 individual reefs. It was recorded as a World Heritage site in 1981.
  • The reef is located in the Coral Sea, north east of Australia and covers an area of approximately 348,000 sq km.
  • It is credited as the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms and is visible from the outer space.

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Antartica’s Ross Sea declared as world’s largest Marine Protected Area

Antartica’s Ross Sea was declared as world’s largest Marine Protected Area (MPA) to protect the Earth’s most pristine marine ecosystem.

It was declared after landmark international agreement among 24 countries and European Union in Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) meeting in Hobart, Australia.

Key Facts

  • The Ross Sea is one of the last intact marine ecosystems in the world. It covers 1.6 million square kilometers.ross-sea
  • MPA status to Ross Sea will bring blanket ban on commercial fishing across about three quarters of its area for 35 years.
  • Ross Sea in the Southern Ocean is home to 38% of the world’s Adelie penguins, 30% of world’s Antarctic petrels and around 6% of world’s population of Antarctic minke whales.
  • It is also home to huge numbers of krill, a staple food for species including whales and seals.

What is Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)?

  • The CCAMLR was established by international convention in 1982 with the objective of conserving Antarctic marine life. It is part of the Antarctic Treaty System.
  • It was signed by 14 states and has been ratified by 35 states (including India) and the European Community
  • Headquarters: Tasmania, Australia.
  • Goal: Preserve marine life and environmental integrity in and near Antarctica
  • The CCAMLR was established in response to increasing commercial interest in Antarctic krill resources, a keystone component of the Antarctic ecosystem and over-exploitation of several other marine resources in the Southern Ocean.

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Malcolm Turnbull sworn in as Prime Minister of Australia

Malcolm Turnbull was sworn as Prime Minister of Australia for second term after a narrow victory in the federal election. He became the 29th Prime Minister of the country.

He was administered oath to the office by Governor-General Peter Cosgrove, Queen Elizabeth II’s representative in Australia.

Background

  • In the 2016 Australian federal election, Liberal/National Coalition led by Malcolm Turnbull had won a one-seat majority of 76 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives.
  • While the opposition Labor Party won 69 seats. The 2016 federal election was a double dissolution election to elect members of the 45th Parliament of Australia.

About Malcolm Turnbull

  • Prior to entering politics, Malcolm Turnbull had worked as a lawyer, journalist, investment banker and venture capitalist.
  • He started political career in 2004 after he was elected as Member of Parliament from Wentworth. He still represents it.
  • In September 2015, he became the Prime Minister of Australia by succeeding Tony Abbott. He became PM after defeating Abbott in internal party leadership ballot of the Liberal Party.
  • In the Tony Abbott’s government he was the Minister for Communications from September 2013 to September 2015.
  • Previously, he had served as Minister for the Environment and Water in the Howard Government in 2007.
  • Later in September 2008, he was elected Leader of the Liberal Party and become Leader of the Opposition.

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