Keeping an eye on reef
WITH the start of the wet season about to hit, marine managers and scientists are keeping a close eye on the Great Barrier Reef.
High sea surface temperatures, cyclones and flood run-off are all associated with the Queensland summer and can pose a threat to the health of the reef.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) director Dr Paul Marshall said marine managers and scientists have met to discuss the extreme weather events during summer 2010-2011, as well as how the reef might fare during summer.
“Predictions from the Bureau of Meteorology for this summer include above average rainfall and increased cyclone activity,” he said.
“This could result in increased cloud cover which can help to keep sea surface temperatures at low to average levels.
“While these conditions may reduce the threat of heat and light stress, corals may be affected by other impacts, such as cyclones and flood plumes.
“During the summer, field officers from the Department of Environment and Resource Management, reef industry stakeholders and community members will be undertaking surveys of the reef’s health.
“The surveys will provide early warning of any problems such as coral bleaching, disease and damage from predators and storms.”
Information gleaned through surveys carried out on the reef will be used in the integrated Eye on the Reef monitoring program.