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Australia Wrestles With Saving the Great Barrier Reef

With billions of tourism dollars at stake, many refuse to believe or simply ignore that the massive natural wonder is being killed by climate change. 

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Research Scientist Dr. Neal Cantin (right) carries a tray of collected samples of the coral Pocillopora acuta from Rib Reef, one of the sections of the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland. 

Research Scientist Dr. Neal Cantin (right) carries a tray of collected samples of the coral Pocillopora acuta from Rib Reef, one of the sections of the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland. 

Photographer: David Maurice Smith/Oculi/Redux

Ask four Australians why the Great Barrier Reef is bleaching, and you’ll hear four different answers.

A travel agent in Brisbane says it’s because of the cyclone that hit last year. Another one just down the street blames “some sort of starfish.” A tour guide in Cairns says bleaching is a natural part of the coral life cycle; another, in nearby Port Douglas, calls it propaganda. He proclaims the reef isn’t bleaching at all.