The Great Barrier Reef, already fighting to survive after repeated bleaching events, has been dealt yet another blow.
CNN is reporting that a cruise ship spilled thousands of gallons of liquid food waste on the reef in August. The spill was revealed as part of an ongoing investigation being conducted by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, according to CNN.
The P&O ship, owned by Carnival, spilled about 1,849 gallons of waste, an incident the cruise company said was unintentional.
However, Australia’s Green Party Senator, Larissa Waters, and local media have reported that the spill was far larger, closer to 7,133 gallons. Their estimates are based on an Australian Maritime Safety Authority report, which was presented to the Australian Senate.
The spill apparently took place on August 26. Authorities were not notified, however, for two days, when Carnival eventually self-reported the incident, according to CNN.
The ship was then detained by Australian authorities upon its arrival in Sydney in September. Carnival has been fined $1.5 million.
A Great Barrier Reef park authority spokesperson was later quoted as saying: “The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority takes pollution of the Marine Park seriously and works with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to ensure the best outcome for the Great Barrier Reef.”
One of the world’s seven natural wonders, the Great Barrier Reef is a protected park and a World Heritage site.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that the reef is bleaching at an accelerated rate.
An extensive new report from Bloomberg highlighted the fact that about 30 percent of the reef’s corals died in 2016. The following year, the reef suffered back-to-back mass bleaching events (which is unprecedented in modern history). The result was more than half of the corals dying along two-thirds of the entire reef.
As of 2018, there’s not a single section of the Great Barrier Reef that hasn’t experienced at least some bleaching.
The bleaching events are triggered by climate change. Scientists are now saying that the corals are on death row between the impacts of climate change and other environmental damage.
John “Charlie” Veron, widely known as “The Godfather of Coral,” told CNN the reef is headed for “massive death” and he is now trying to raise awareness far and wide about the issue.
Vernon, one of the most respected scientists in Australia, who has been studying the reef for 45 years, told CNN its future “can’t be anything other than absolute massive death.”
“I was a climate change skeptic, at first,” Vernon told CNN, adding that in the mid-1980s he realized climate change was serious and became alarmed about its impact on coral reefs.
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