Recovery of Great Barrier Reef stalls as scientists point to bleaching, disease and starfish attacks

Hard coral cover in the northern section of the reef, from Cape York to Cooktown, was estimated at 35.7%, down from 36.5% in 2022.

Between Cooktown and Proserpine, the reef’s central region, coral cover was estimated at 30.8%, down from 32.6% last year.

In the southern region, from Proserpine to Gladstone, coral cover was at 33.8% – virtually unchanged from the previous year. In this section, some reefs suffered from disease and attacks from crown-of-thorns starfish.

Dr David Wachenfeld, the research program director at Aims, said the most recent summer had delivered mild conditions with low coral bleaching and only one cyclone.

“However, we are only one large scale disturbance away from a rapid reversal of recent recovery,” he said.