Widespread bleaching in the One Tree Island lagoon (Southern Great Barrier Reef) during record-breaking temperatures in 2020

Publication Name

Environmental Monitoring and Assessment


The global marine environment has been impacted significantly by climate change. Ocean temperatures are rising, and the frequency, duration and intensity of marine heatwaves are increasing, particularly affecting coral reefs. Coral bleaching events are becoming more common, with less recovery time between events. Anomalous temperatures at the start of 2020 caused widespread bleaching across the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), extending to southern, previously less affected reefs such as One Tree Island. Here, nine video transects were conducted at One Tree Island, in the Capricorn Bunker Group, and analysed for community composition and diversity, and the extent of bleaching across taxa. Average live hard coral cover across the area was 11.62%, and almost half of this was identified as severely bleached. This bleaching event is concerning as it occurred in an area previously considered a potential refuge for corals and associated fauna from the risks of climate warming. Due to the global impacts of COVID-19 during 2020, this report provides one of potentially few monitoring efforts of coral bleaching.

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Funding Sponsor

Hermon Slade Foundation



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