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Great Barrier Reef

This photo supplied by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) shows diseased corals at a reef in the Cairns/Cooktown on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, April 27, 2017. N. Mattocks/AP hide caption

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N. Mattocks/AP

Australia's Great Barrier Reef has experienced four mass bleaching events in the last seven years, like this one in 2017. Scientists warn repeated bleaching makes it tough for corals to recover. Brett Monroe Garner/Getty Images hide caption

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Brett Monroe Garner/Getty Images

The Australian federal government has downgraded its long-term outlook of the Great Barrier Reef to "very poor," and it says that climate change is the most significant threat. William West/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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William West/AFP/Getty Images

A 2014 photo shows coral on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. The Australian government is dedicating hundreds of millions of dollars to protecting and researching the reef. William West/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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William West/AFP/Getty Images

There are variations in the appearance of severely bleached corals. Here, the coral displays pink fluorescing tissue signalling heat stress. ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies/ Gergely Torda hide caption

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ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies/ Gergely Torda

Climate Change Is Killing Coral On The Great Barrier Reef

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Aerial view of the Heart Reef, part of the Great Barrier Reef Arterra/UIG via Getty Images hide caption

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Arterra/UIG via Getty Images

While Corals Die Along The Great Barrier Reef, Humans Struggle To Adjust

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A diver near Australia's Orpheus Island surveys bleached Great Barrier Reef coral in March 2017. Greg Torda/ACR Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies hide caption

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Greg Torda/ACR Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Graveyard of Staghorn coral, Yonge reef, Northern Great Barrier Reef, October 2016. Greg Torda/ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies hide caption

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Greg Torda/ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

The Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland, Australia, in August 2009. Scientists say they have discovered a second, enormous reef in the deeper water behind the Great Barrier Reef. Phil Walter/Getty Images hide caption

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Phil Walter/Getty Images

A marine biologist is engulfed by a school of barracuda and jacks as she conducts reef surveys in Kimbe Bay, Papua New Guinea. Tane Sinclair-Taylor/Nature Publishing Group hide caption

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Tane Sinclair-Taylor/Nature Publishing Group

This undated picture of bleached coral (lower right) on part of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia was taken by Prof. Terry Hughes during an aerial survey of the reef. Terry Hughes/ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies hide caption

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Terry Hughes/ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Staghorn coral planted by scientists in the Florida Keys. Researchers hope to give the same sort of boost to the world's shrinking population of pillar coral, now that they can raise the creatures in a laboratory. Joe Berg/Way Down Video/Mote hide caption

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Joe Berg/Way Down Video/Mote

Scientists Catch Up On The Sex Life Of Coral To Help Reefs Survive

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These scuba divers are among the 2 million tourists who visit the Great Barrier Reef each year. They contribute about $5.6 billion to Australia's economy, according to the Queensland government. Steve Dorsey for NPR hide caption

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Steve Dorsey for NPR

As Great Barrier Reef Ails, Australia Scrambles To Save It

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A tasseled wobbegong shark (top) lies on the seafloor with the head of a brown-banded bamboo shark in its mouth on the fringing reef of Great Keppel Island on Australia's Great Barrier Reef in August 2011. Reuters/Landov hide caption

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Reuters/Landov