Those who have visited the Great Barrier Reef as part of Australian tour holidays since February 2011 will know that cyclone Yasi caused a significant amount of damage to parts of the reef, particularly to the reefs located between Tully and Townsville. Strong currents and powerful waves were created by gusts of wind that reportedly reached speeds of 285km/h, which in turn damaged the reefs.
Surveys carried out after the cyclone showed that 15 per cent of the total reef area monitored by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority was damaged by the cyclone and there were concerns that coral would struggle to grow back. Roger Beeden, climate change and ecosystems manager at GBRMPA, was confident that it would be possible “if they’re free from other stresses” and said that they tried to control the population of the crown-of-thorns starfish and improve the quality of water surrounding the reefs to help regrowth.
The recent report produced by the GBRMPA has shown that baby coral is now growing well in the areas that were damaged, which is fantastic news for the reef and for those who are concerned for its future. The corals are growing in shallow waters and the algae that covered the rubble created by cyclone Yasi has now gone, but Beeden stressed that it will take a long time for the coral to grow back properly, with some taking decades to be fully restored. As always, the Great Barrier Reef should be treated with care and attention by fishers and visitors, who can easily follow a number of guidelines to enjoy the beauty of the reef without damaging it.
Click on the link at the bottom of this article to read more about the report from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
Image Credit: mattk1979 (flickr.com)