Coral reefs regularly go through bleaching episodes, generally tied to ENSO events. For years each one of these bleaching events have been tied to climate change. The reefs have been predicted to die off permanently for decades now:
Eternal Life and Death of our Rare Roast Reef.
One recent study that went so far as to project how climate change would separately disable reef fish to the point where they would basically be sitting ducks for predators and be gone quite soon has now failed a replication test and an independent investigation has been launched. One of the authors, Oona Lönnstedt, was first found guilty of misconduct (fabricating tests/data) on a separate paper re: micro-plastic damage in young fish in Dec. 2017 at Uupsala Univ. in Sweden.
In the meantime, Peter Ridd had been whistleblowing on this particular group of scientists at James Cook University. He was castigated and fired. He won a wrongful termination lawsuit but it is under appeal. Hopefully this latest revelation of fraud will turn things in his favor. [UPDATE: he lost the appeal but gained employment elsewhere]
So what is the actual status of the world’s coral reefs, specifically the Great Barrier Reef?
Evidently they’re just fine!
Due to the remarkable mechanisms that corals have developed to adapt to changing temperatures, especially the ability to swap symbionts, corals are perhaps the least endangered of any ecosystem to future climate change – natural or man-made.
Resilience of Corals to Temperature Changes