The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority continues to closely monitor above average water temperatures on the Reef which have raised concerns of coral bleaching.
The latest weekly update from the Authority confirms some parts of the Central and Southern management areas were from 1.5-3°C warmer and that the forecast weather pattern remains concerning.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Field Team has divers checking reefs, as well at the Authority’s Field Management vessel, Reef Ranger, undertaking reef health surveys. Aerial surveillance is also continuing. Anecdotal reports of isolated bleaching events have been gathered to date.
The Authority will continue to work with the Australian Institute of Marine Science and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service to look for indications of any coral bleaching in coming weeks and will continue to work closely with the Bureau of Meteorology to monitor weather patterns.
I have talked with the Authority’s Chief Scientist, Dr David Wachenfeld, who says there is no confirmation of mass coral bleaching but that the current weather pattern, in what is the area’s hottest month of the year, is a concern.
He notes that this pattern can change quickly and that it may take several weeks to establish an accurate picture.
The situation highlights the importance of Federal Government management initiatives to support Reef resilience.
The Commonwealth is investing $1.9 Billion in protecting the Reef to support the $2.7 billion Reef 2050 Plan in conjunction with the Queensland Government.
The doubling of the Reef Joint Field Management Program, investments in Crown of Thorns Starfish control, investments in water quality programs, marine science, state of the art monitoring of reef environments and reef adaptation are playing key roles in supporting the Reef.