Outer reef bouncing back after Debbie
AS WIND gusts of more than 260kmh lashed the Whitsunday Islands, the usually tranquil water had 10m waves bulldozing the coral on the seabed.
Left in its wake was broken coral, poor visibility and mangled boating infrastructure around the reef – but the reef is blooming again.
The destruction was a blow as the Great Barrier Reef is the main drawcard for the tourism industry that puts about $270 million into the Whitsunday economy each year.
Three months on from Cyclone Debbie, as the Federal and State Government splashed serious cash on tourism campaigns in Melbourne, Sydney and even Paris – tourism operators started to report the reef was coming back to life.
Though Cruise Whitsunday has suspended all snorkelling from its tours taking in the fringing reef of the islands due to extensive coral damage, the outer reef is bouncing back according to Cruise Whitsundays media executive Alyce Carter.
“The good news is there is new coral buds already growing,” she said.
“We have our pontoon at Hardy Reef and the reef is beautiful and it is still thriving. We want to remove those perceptions in terms of the coral bleaching and the perception it is dead.”
She said the cyclone didn’t scare away the marine life, with reports the fish are more curious than ever.
“The cyclone hasn’t scared off the main star attractions, Chip the turtle, George the Queensland grouper and Wally and Maggie, the two Maori wrasses,” she said.