Great Barrier Reef Recovery

Coral cover has bounced back across two thirds of the Great Barrier Reef. The northern and central sections of the reef have the highest levels of coral cover recorded in 36 years of monitoring by the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

Coral on the Great Barrier Reef

Dr Mike Emslie leads the agency's long-term monitoring program and says the reef has shown it can still recover if given the chance. He says the increased coral cover from Cape York south to Proserpine is the result of a few years of relative calm.

While the reef has suffered negative effects from mass coral bleaching events in 2020 and again this summer, they weren't anywhere near as deadly for coral as the ones in 2016 and 2017. The reef has also benefited from a few years without being battered by cyclones.

"Our latest surveys show the Great Barrier Reef is still an amazing place, it's still vibrant, it can still recover if given the chance," Dr Emslie says.

The survey report estimates hard coral cover in the northern section of the reef, from Cape York to Cooktown, is sitting at 36 percent. That's the highest level recorded in the monitoring program's 36-year history and a major turnaround from the most recent low of 13 percent in 2017.

In the central section of the reef from Cooktown to Proserpine hard coral cover is estimated at 33 percent, also the highest on record and up from 14 percent in 2019.