Australia launched a probe Wednesday into the agency responsible for protecting the Great Barrier Reef after some board members were urged to resign over alleged conflicts of interest related to the mining industry.
Scientists studying remote reefs off Australia said Thursday sharks played a fundamental role in coral health, with overfishing of the marine predators increasing reef vulnerability to global warming and disasters.
Australia pledged another Aus$5 million (US$4.6 million) to the fight against a predatory starfish devastating the iconic Great Barrier Reef Thursday, revealing 100,000 of the creatures had been wiped out so far.
Australia hailed "solid" progress on water quality at the Great Barrier Reef Wednesday but admitted that overall conditions were now "poor" as it battles UNESCO threats to downgrade its heritage status.
Australia insisted Friday that protecting the Great Barrier Reef was a top priority, but conservationists WWF said not enough had been done to prevent UNESCO deeming it a world heritage site "in danger".
China's economic boom has seen its coral reefs shrink by at least 80 percent over the past 30 years, a joint Australian study found Thursday, with researchers describing "grim" levels of damage and loss.