The status of Australia's Great Barrier Reef has been moved to critical and deteriorating by a global authority in nature conservation, mostly as a result of coral bleaching caused by climate change.

The World Heritage-listed site off Australia's north eastern coast suffered worsening reef health and diversity of animals due to bleaching events of 2016, 2017 and 2020, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Rising sea temperatures caused the three mass coral bleaching events in five years.

The Great Barrier Reef runs 2,300km down Australia's northeast coast. It is worth an estimated €3.6bn a year in tourism revenue for the Australian economy.

But it is at risk of losing its coveted world heritage status because warmer oceans brought about by climate change have damaged its health.

It was world heritage listed in 1981 by UNESCO as the most extensive and spectacular coral reef ecosystem on the planet. 

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