Tycoon in support of coral study
TOURISM tycoon Chris Morris is helping fund a scientific expedition into the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef to search for corals that can survive bleaching.
The multi- millionaire, whose The Morris Group owns The Ville ResortCasino, is lending Great Barrier Reef Legacy his superyacht Flying Fish for the mid- November trip to the northern part of the Reef and Torres Strait to survey the extent of bleaching.
Scientists and other crew on the 33.5m charter yacht will then search for “supercorals” that have tolerated warmer water temperatures during the past two mass bleaching events.
Surveys by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority during 2016 and earlier this year found 70 per cent of shallow water corals in the area north of Port Douglas died from consecutive bleaching events.
The new expedition aims to shed light on parts of the Reef which have not been fully explored by authorities.
“There has been very few research teams that have been sent up that way,” Great Barrier Reef Legacy marine scientist Dr Dean Miller said.
“We’ll be the first ones to go in after the 2017 bleaching event.
“There was a team that went up there in 2016 from the Marine Park Authority and AIMS ( Australian Institute of Marine Science), and no one’s been up there since. So we’re sending a research team in there to provide an overall health assessment.”
Joining the expedition will be former AIMS chief scientist Dr Charlie Veron, regarded as the “grandfather” of coral reef science in Australia, having discovered 20 per cent of the world’s corals.
Dr Miller said the team would search for heat- tolerant corals.
“Charlie is going to identify the corals that are going really, really well,” he said. “What that means for management and researchers is that these are the corals that are likely to survive further stress events.”
The Search for Supercorals expedition will leave Port Douglas on November 15 and return on December 5.