past tense: decimated; past participle: decimated
ABC use the word in the following headline:
We did not find the word "decimated" used by scientists in the article, this appears to be another case of ABC exaggeration.
A recent relevant CSIRO report provides the following information about the bleaching event:
This is ABC's caption: Christmas Tree Worms on a Porites coral head, that has been bleached by a marine heatwave off WA's Montobello Island.
From ABC 11/3/2014:
Thank you for your email of 13 February concerning coral bleaching off the Pilbara coast.
As your correspondence raised concerns of a lack of accuracy, your email was referred to Audience and Consumer Affairs for consideration and response. The unit is separate and independent from ABC program areas and is responsible for investigating complaints alleging a broadcast or publication was in contravention of the ABC's editorial standards. In light of your concerns, we have reviewed the story and assessed it against the ABC’s editorial requirements for accuracy, as outlined in section 2 of the ABC’s Editorial Policies. In the interests of procedural fairness, we have also sought and considered material from ABC News.
The word 'decimated' used in the headline was taken directly from the CSIRO's Media Release which states:
"Some unwelcome discoveries were made, including the bleaching and decimation of a pocket of ancient coral heads - many up to 400 years old - that have provided an important record of reef health".
As the CSIRO is Australia's top scientific organisation, the use of the headline 'Coral reef off Pilbara coast in Western Australia decimated by marine heatwave, scientists say' is a legitimate description of the content covered in the story.
The original caption, however, did not refer to the photo that was published and has been changed.
ABC News apologises for any confusion that may have resulted.