Reef of hope
A pristine site found on the remote outer Great Barrier Reef could help rebuild vast sections of coral wiped out by recent mass bleaching events.
MARINE EXPERTS on board a November expedition to waters off far north Queensland have confirmed the existence of a tiny reef that was spared the recent bleaching events that reduced living coral cover across two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). The so-called Legacy Super Site is less than 500m across, and may be so important to the future of the GBR that its location remains a secret. Scientists are unsure about what conditions at the site have managed to protect it from the elevated sea temperatures that lead to coral bleaching (see AG 142). Esteemed coral researcher Dr Charlie Veron – part of the prestigious team of marine scientists and educators on board the expedition organised by GBR Legacy, a not-for-profit supported by the AG Society – described the site as “the most beautiful and biologically important site the Great Barrier Reef has”. The site supports more than 195 coral species, representing nearly half of all species on the entire GBR. This offers hope that coral spawn from the secret site (left) could re-seed debilitated sections of the GBR further south. Experts warn, however, that if global warming continues, the
GBR’s long-term future will continue to be threatened.
The huge size of this plate coral, over which pioneering reef conservationist John Rumney floats, is a sign this reef has been untouched by recent coral bleaching events.