Ty­coon in sup­port of co­ral study

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - DANIEL BATEMAN

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.

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