By Tom DavisPublished Nov 09, 2018 10:53:50More than a million people have died in the Great Barrier Reef since it was declared extinct in 1983, with more than 4,000 of those deaths recorded in the past five years, according to a report by a nonprofit research group.
More than 70 per cent of the dead were dolphins, the study found, while many more were turtles, sharks, rays and other sea life.
The research group’s analysis also found the deaths were concentrated in areas near reefs, as they were often too close to mainland towns and cities.
Scientists estimate that nearly 1.5 million people were killed by marine pollution in 2016 alone, the report said.
The Great Barrier was declared dead in 1983 after it was found to be underwater by the Australian government, prompting a major government-funded study that found no pollution in the reef.
But it was not until 2015 that scientists began to study marine life in the area and found that marine life was thriving in many areas.
The findings prompted then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to announce a national ban on fishing in the waters off the reef, and the government began the recovery of coral reefs in 2015.
Since then, researchers have continued to document the extent of marine pollution on the reef in the areas near the Great Barrens and other areas around Australia, as well as the effects on marine life.
The study’s authors, Dr Mark Langer and Dr Daniel Ackerley, are now working on a second report, which will include more information on how long the Great Reef is recovering and what effect the ban has had on the animals in the surrounding areas.