UNITED NEWS INTERNATIONAL (UNI) — Australia’s Great Barrier Reef may be closer to collapse than we thought.

Scientists at the University of Queensland and the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences claim the reef is getting worse at recovering from disturbances.

They published their findings Wednesday, July 18 in the journal Science Advances.

Past studies have focused only on the disturbances that have caused the reef to decline in the past 30 years — like bleaching events and infections.

But this study analyzed the reef’s natural recovery rate.

It found between 1992 and 2010, the recovery rate dropped by an average of 84 percent.

But there is hope.

The study also found some corals can recover quickly if “acute and chronic stressors” are lessened.

Meanwhile, the Australian government released its updated reef protection plan Friday. It explicitly states global temperatures must be stopped from rising in order to save the world’s largest living structure.