Outer reef bounc­ing back after Deb­bie

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS -

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.

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