AIMS still has plans to reinstall reef cam
A LOCAL fisherman has raised safety concerns about outer-reef fishing trips after 12 months of heading to the reef “blind”.
Usually when heading to the Great Barrier Reef after checking weather reports the next safeguard was to log on and check the Hardy Reef webcam attached to the Cruise Whitsundays pontoon.
But since Cyclone Debbie hit the Whitsundays in March, this has not been possible.
Operator of the web cam, the Australian Institute of Marine Science, confirmed it ceased operation last year and had not provided live vision of the reef since.
Scott Bainbridge who runs the AIMS weather station project said the camera and underwater sensors were lost when the pontoon was destroyed last year during TC Debbie.
The AIMS website has the camera’s status listed as “offline”.
Mr Bainbridge said there were plans to reinstall the camera.
“They are an important data source for this part of the reef and so are a critical part of our network,” he said. “We are waiting for the replacement pontoon to be ready as we have been asked to not install a temporary station but to wait for the final replacement pontoon, when that is in place we will replace the station.”
Although used by AIMS to track in real-time warm-weather events which cause coral bleaching, Mr Bainbridge said it was also used by tourist operators and local boaties.
“I always check it before heading out,” a local fisherman said.
“The nearest weather station to us is at Creal Reef and that is a fairly long way away. But it is out in the ocean. You can’t look at the one in Mackay as it is on the mainland.
“But the weather between Creal Reef and here can be 10 knots difference sometimes and you just don’t know what the weather is doing.”
Creal Reef is about 60kms due north-east of Mackay.
The Hardy Reef camera also provided information such as humidity and wind speed for recreational boat users.
“It gave you the actual weather and it was only an hour away and you could look at the camera and see if it was rough or not,” the fisherman said.
“Every time you went out you would look at the camera.”
❝look You could at the camera and see it it was rough or not.
— local fisherman