Coral Bleaching Update
A recent survey of the Great Barrier Reef’s far northern reef systems has revealed the majority of corals have survived and recovered from the 2016 coral bleaching event, reported earlier this year. This is great news for the reef and divers who want to see it at its best.
This survey was conducted in mid-2016, by a group of experienced Great Barrier Reef divers who visited the apparently hardest hit sections of the far northern reefs. The expedition was sponsored by Cairns liveaboard dive operators Mike Ball Dive Expeditions and Spirit of Freedom.
The participants were people who know and have been diving this section of the reef for over two decades. People who are well equipped to provide accurate reports on the reefs health, and to identify any changes which might have occurred due to the recent bleaching event.
We are happy to report the news is good! Contrary to the earlier reports that 50-60% of the coral on these reefs would die off, it has been discovered that this figure is actually less than 5%.
The two-week expedition surveyed 28 sites on 24 outer shelf reefs, along a 300km section of the far northern Great Barrier Reef. A section of reef that Mike Ball Dive Expeditions’ operations manager Craig Stephen is very familiar with.
“It wasn’t until we got underwater that we could get a true picture of what percentage of reef was bleached,” Craig said. “We expected the worst. But it is in tremendous condition, most of it is still pristine and the rest is in full recovery. It really shows the resilience of the reef.”
On the subject of how the media had portrayed the damage to the reef compared to the reality, he continued: “The discrepancy is phenomenal. It is so wrong. Everywhere we went we found healthy reefs. There has been a great disservice to the Great Barrier Reef and tourism and it has not been good for our industry.”
While some people might argue that reef operators have a vested interest in reporting good news, the same could be said for the scientists, who rely on bad news to gain funding for their research.
At Cairns Dive Adventures we won’t enter the ‘politics’ of the argument on either side. We simply want to report the facts in an accurate way, which allows scuba divers to make informed choices on the best place to dive.
So, to once again answer the question of is the Great Barrier Reef worth visiting for diving, a resounding yes it. Has coral bleaching killed the Great Barrier Reef? NO! This natural wonder of the world continues to amaze and impress scuba divers, who are thrilled with the colour and diversity of life that lies beneath the waters of the Coral Sea.
Picture and text courtesy Captain Trevor Jackson’s ‘The Great Barrier Reef lives’.
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