Coral: the good and bad
MORE than 60 locals heard the bitter sweet update regarding coral bleaching at a public forum held by the Local Marine Advisory Committee last Tuesday at the Clink Theatre.
Dr Roger Beeden from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority gave a detailed report of the state of the reef, stressing that although 93 per cent of the reefs have been “affected by some bleaching, this does not necessarily mean they are dead”.
“The critical thing to note is that aerial surveys cannot determine the difference between live and dead coral,” Dr Beeden said, “and it takes about four weeks of temperature stress for coral to start going white, and 8 weeks of continued stress before they die.”
Dr Beeden explained that there are three factors that can lead to death of coral because of bleaching.
“It is not just the temperature that causes bleaching – it is also light and nutrients, and when these things get out of balance, we see the reef in stress.
“Because of climate change, we are seeing more temperature stress now.
“We are also seeing less cyclone activity and therefore less cloud and therefore more light and heat,” he said.
“According to the Bureau of Meteorology, January to March this year were the hottest temperatures on record since 1900 along this part of the Queensland coast.
“We can all get to the point of doom and gloom – it’s all over, it’s all dead,” he said, “but no it isn’t.
“The reef actually has a heck of a lot of resilience, we just need to do the best that we can to protect it.”
Other speakers were Brian Donnelly from Cairns Marine and Scott Firth from the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators who echoed the sentiments of Dr Beeden on the need to address climate change.
Questions from the floor were mainly concerned with with how to balance the negative media and resulting effect on tourism with legitimate concerns over the health of the reef and climate change.
Local LMAC head Robert Hanan and regional LMAC boss Doon McColl said they were pleased with the attendance and thought it had been well worth it.
Robert Hanan (left) comperes the coral bleaching forum