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Two-thirds of all coral in the northern third of the reef is dead after a mass bleaching event earlier this year, new dive surveys show.
Leading reef expert Professor Terry Hughes says warmer waters caused by man-induced climate change have cooked corals in the north, which had been the most pristine part of the World Heritage-listed ecosystem.
The worst-hit stretch is from Port Douglas north, where 67 per cent of shallow-water corals have died in the past eight to nine months.
At Lizard Island, north of Cooktown, 100 per cent of corals are dead.
The central and southern stretches of the reef fared far better, because the water didn't get as hot