Reef tiles

Clean bill of health for co­ral

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Louise Alling­ham

The Depart­ment of Parks and Wildlife have found few traces of co­ral bleach­ing in reefs on the Pil­bara coast.

DPaW re­search sci­en­tist Ge­orge She­drawi said no fur­ther signs of bleach­ing were found at the Mon­te­bello Is­lands, Bar­row Is­land, Shark Bay and Nin­ga­loo Reef.

Co­ral bleach­ing oc­curs when there is a change in wa­ter tem­per­a­ture and has the po­ten­tial to kill a reef sys­tem.

“Co­ral bleach­ing is a stress re­sponse by the corals as a re­sult of in­creased wa­ter tem­per­a­ture,” Mr She­drawi said.

“There’s ev­i­dence to sug­gest that corals can re­gain them af­ter a mild bleach­ing event but af­ter a se­vere bleach­ing event they just die off.” Mr She­drawi said co­ral bleach­ing can oc­cur as a re­sult of global warm­ing.

“It needs a global ef­fort across the world for re­duc­ing the ef­fects of cli­mate change that we’re see­ing,” he said.

“The other thing that we can do is man­age other stresses like pol­lu­tion, over fish­ing, habi­tat de­struc­tion, dredg­ing ... if we can re­duce those other pres­sures then it in­creases the chances of the corals that have been af­fected by bleach­ing to re­cover.

“If you have the flu, then you get pneu­mo­nia and on top of that you get an­other dis­ease, your chances of sur­vival de­crease with ev­ery new ail­ment.

“It’s the same with co­ral reefs, if you can just only ex­pose them to one then their chances of re­cov­ery are higher.”

The DPaW Kar­ratha marine team con­ducted tests to check for co­ral bleach­ing while col­lect­ing set­tle­ment tiles that were laid out at the end of March.

Ter­ra­cotta set­tle­ment tiles are at­tached to non liv­ing parts of the reef ahead of a co­ral spawn­ing event.

Once the co­ral have spawned, they set­tle on the tiles and are left to grow.

Mr She­drawi has just been out with the re­search team col­lect­ing the tiles which will be now be an­a­lysed.

“Co­ral set­tle­ment tiles ... mea­sure the num­ber of young com­ing into a pop­u­la­tion,” he said.

“I’m plan­ning next week on as­sess­ing those tiles and see­ing what the num­bers are and com­par­ing them to oth­ers ar­eas.”

Pic­ture: Depart­ment of Parks and Wildlife

DPaW re­searchers col­lect co­ral set­tle­ment tiles.

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