The end of the reef?

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A study released this week showed that more than half of the Great Barrier Reef has disappeared over the past 27 years. The study found that coral had covered 28% of the reef in 1985 but is now down to just 13.8%. It also predicted a decline of between five and 10% by 2022. The new research by the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville says cyclones caused 48% of the coral loss, the crown of thorns starfish caused 42% and coral bleaching 10%. The more frequent outbreaks of crown of thorns are blamed on the run-off of soils, fertilisers and pesticides. These revelations were met with dismay, surprise and a sense of urgency that something must be done quickly. But Dr Peter Bell warned about nutrients in the Great Barrier Reef region 25 years ago. Dr Bell is speaking to Warren Boland.