Bul­let dodged but fight far from over

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

“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.

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