Yasi no reef match
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.
What cyclone: Agincourt Reef suffered little