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Whitsundays’ Reef Alive And Ticking

By Ki Ki Taylor

As far as CEO of Tourism Whitsundays Craig Turner is concerned, the Great Barrier Reef is alive and ticking despite concerning news from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) today.

This morning, GBRMPA announced mass coral bleaching was occurring on the Great Barrier Reef for the second consecutive year.

Yesterday, an aerial survey of the reef which had experts from GBRMPA and researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science flying over it for six hours between Townsville and Cairns, found severe bleaching in offshore reefs from north of Ingham to Cairns.

There was also some bleaching observed in the central part of the reef. Marine Park Authority Director of Reef Recovery, Dr David Wachenfeld said the survey confirmed anecdotal reports from visitors and reef surveys.

“Mass bleaching is occurring on the Great Barrier Reef for the second consecutive year,” he said.

“How this event unfolds will depend very much on local weather conditions over the next few weeks.

“Importantly, not all bleached coral will die. As we saw last year bleaching and mortality can be highly variable across the 344,000 square kilometre Marine Park – an area bigger than Italy.”

But Mr Turner said despite mass coral bleaching in the more northern areas of the reef, the Whitsundays was experiencing minimal affects.

“We recognise that there are areas of the reef that are experiencing bleaching events at the moment, however, the reef is over 2,300kms long and there are varying degrees of effect,” he said.

“The Whitsundays is located in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), halfway between Brisbane and Cairns, and the reef in the Whitsundays is in good shape – it is still going to provide visitors with an exceptional life-changing experience.

“Our industry is continually monitoring the reef to ensure that all efforts to safeguard the GBR are being undertaken. “It should be noted however that, as stated in the GBRMPA release, warming temperatures, and bleaching events are a global issue and concern, and are not only occurring on the GBR.”

Nonetheless, AMCS Great Barrier Reef Campaign Director Imogen Zethoven has called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to ditch Adani’s Carmichael Coal Mine Project and Abbot Point port expansion as a result.

“The Premier is visiting India next week with eight regional mayors to petition the Adani leadership to press go on the coal mine, (but) the Premier should cancel the Indian trip, return home to Queensland and refuse any more approvals for the Adani project,” she said.

“We are the generation that could witness the death of Australia’s most beautiful natural asset unless both the Federal and Queensland government’s find their moral compass and economic rationality and reject the grossly destructive Carmichael Mine and Abbot Point coal port.”

Source: Whitsunday Times.

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