Bullet dodged but fight far from over
“The future of the reef really does depend on a mix of global and local action” – David Wachenfeld
THE Whitsundays has been lucky this time around when it comes to coral bleaching.
Bleaching occurs when the symbiotic relationship between the coral and the tiny marine algae which calls it home breaks down.
With the algae expelled, the white skeleton is revealed and the coral can starve.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority director Dr David Wachenfeld said aerial surveys showed coral bleaching lessening from north to south.
“And by the time you get to the Whitsundays area it’s pretty minor,” he said.
Currently, GBRMPA is carrying out underwater surveys to get a clearer view of the local impacts.
“In terms of what’s happening on the mid-shelf reefs and the outer-shelf reefs, it’s just minor bleaching with no real sign of mortality,” Dr Wachenfeld said.
“We’ve got to remember that this sits in the context of the hottest February and March on record since 1900, when records began.”
Dr Wachenfeld stressed that while the Whitsundays remained largely untouched, action was needed to prevent further bleaching.
“The issue for me is that in any one event some areas will be lucky, some will be unlucky, but we’ve got to remember that we’re actually changing the climate of our planet,” he said.
“While one area might be lucky in one event, there’s no area on the Great Barrier Reef that’s immune to the effects of climate change.”
Turning his attention back to the Whitsundays, Dr Wachenfeld said local action was “critically important for the future”.
World famous wildlife documentary maker David Attenborough recently weighed in on the issue, remaining optimistic but issuing a stark warning.
“The resilience of the natural world gives you hope really,” he said. “Give nature half a chance and it really takes it and works with it. But we are throwing huge problems at it.”
STAR WARNING: David Attenborough.