Great Barrier Reef hit with worst coral bleaching on record

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By Claire Hardwick, Buzz60

Australia is home to one of the seven wonders of the world: the Great Barrier Reef.

Higher water temperatures in 2016 have hurt much of the corals in the reef, and 67% of the reef's northern section died, according to the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

Scientists have warned that the coral's recovery could be impaired by global warming.

See more images of the Great Barrier Reef:

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A photo taken on September 22, 2014, shows fish swimming through the coral on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The 2,300-kilometre-long reef contributes AUS$5.4 billion (US$4.8 billion) annually to the Australian economy through tourism, fishing, and scientific research, while supporting 67,000 jobs, according to government data. According to an Australian government report in August, the outlook for the Earth's largest living structure is 'poor', with climate change posing the most serious threat to the extensive coral reef ecosystem. AFP PHOTO/William WEST (Photo credit should read WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)
A photo taken on September 22, 2014, shows fish swimming through the coral on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The 2,300-kilometre-long reef contributes AUS$5.4 billion (US$4.8 billion) annually to the Australian economy through tourism, fishing, and scientific research, while supporting 67,000 jobs, according to government data. According to an Australian government report in August, the outlook for the Earth's largest living structure is 'poor', with climate change posing the most serious threat to the extensive coral reef ecosystem. AFP PHOTO/William WEST (Photo credit should read WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)
A photo taken on September 22, 2014, shows a turtle on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The 2,300-kilometre-long reef contributes AUS$5.4 billion (US$4.8 billion) annually to the Australian economy through tourism, fishing, and scientific research, while supporting 67,000 jobs, according to government data. According to an Australian government report in August, the outlook for the Earth's largest living structure is 'poor', with climate change posing the most serious threat to the extensive coral reef ecosystem. AFP PHOTO/William WEST (Photo credit should read WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)
Great Barrier Reef - Aerial View - Whitsundays, Queensland, Australia
School of Surgeon fish on Great Barrier Reef Australia
Upolu Cay Island in the Coral Sea Great Barrier Reef
An aerial view of the islands of the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia
Aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef
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The coral is suffering from bleaching, which happens when warmer water stays around for an extended period of time.

The term bleaching comes from the appearance of the coral, which has a white exterior and a skeletal look.

This has been the worst bleaching ever recorded; in the area around Lizard Island in Far North Queensland, 90% of the coral died.

The Australian government has developed a long-term sustainability plan in order to combat coral bleaching and to help the reef fight against climate change.

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