Yasi no reef match

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - RICHARD KOSER

AGIN­COURT and Opal Reefs have of­fi­cially sur­vived Cy­clone Yasi.

Al­though lo­cal op­er­a­tors and divers have given the thumbs up to the reef fol­low­ing last month’s mon­ster storm, last week­end was the first time the of­fi­cial reef sur­vey or­gan­i­sa­tion ReefCheck had been able to sur­vey the dam­age.

There wasn’t much dam­age to see, ReefCheck’s acting man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Pete Faulkner said.

“There were a few plate corals knocked over,” he said. “But to be hon­est, at this time of year, dur­ing the storm sea­son, you ex­pect to see some dam­age.”

The ReefCheck team spent Satur­day check­ing three sites on Opal Reef, with two more on Agin­court Reef as­sessed on Sun­day. The sur­veys mark the start of the 2011 sur­vey sea­son, about two months later than usual.

“It’s the first time I’ve been to the Quick­sil­ver pon­toon in sev­eral years, and it’s look­ing pretty good,” Mr Faulkner said.

“The reef looks in very good shape.”

ReefCheck has been sur­vey­ing reefs across the en­tire Great Bar­rier Reef Marine Park for a decade.

“Over the last 10 years, most sites haven’t seen large-scale de­te­ri­o­ra­tion,” Mr Faulkner said.

“Some sites have seen an in­crease in co­ral cover and at oth­ers it has de­clined, but over­all the reef is pretty healthy.

“The main threats to the reef are in fact the chronic threats of bleach­ing and ocean acid­i­fi­ca­tion, rather than the acute threats of cy­clone dam­age.

“We’ve been fairly lucky in that we’ve avoided manor bleach­ing lately, and it’s very dif­fi­cult to point to dam­age in the short term from acid­i­fi­ca­tion.

“We know the pH of the ocean is chang­ing, and we know it is mak­ing it harder for corals to se­crete cal­cium car­bon­ate, but it is im­pos­si­ble to point to any par­tic­u­lar im­pact.

“It may take 50 years be­fore you can point to a clear trend.

“Our data would in­di­cate that the Great Bar­rier Reef will cer­tainly still be around in 20 years’ time.”

Mr Faulkner thanked lo­cal op­er­a­tors for their sup­port.

Photo COUR­TESY OF POSEIDON

What cy­clone: Agin­court Reef suf­fered lit­tle

dam­age

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