The study, led by non-profit Nature Conservancy, was conducted in collaboration with 10 other Australian organisations, and found that 90 to 99 per cent of these reefs have disappeared, Efe news quoted a statement from James Cook University.
"Our study confirms that the situation for these important marine habitats in Australia is even worse with less than 1 per cent of Flat Oyster (Ostrea angasi) and 10 per cent of Rock Oyster (Saccostrea) habitats remaining," he added.
Crustacean reefs are formed by the agglutination of bivalves such as oysters and mussels, which create, modify and maintain a habitat that can support several specie of fish and invertebrates, as well as protect the coastline.
Most of these ecosystems disappeared between the 19th and 20th centuries due to destructive fishing practices, deterioration of water quality, invasive species, disease outbreak and environmental changes.
"While (the Great Barrier Reef) and other coral reefs are indeed under threat, it's the shellfish reefs that have really suffered the most. It's just that most of them disappeared before we were born so people aren't aware we've lost them," explained McLeod.
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