VIDEO | On alert for coral bleaching on the Reef



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Heat Map. Image: Great Barrier Reef Legacy.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and Great Barrier Reef Legacy are on high alert as parts of the reef have begun showing signs of heat stress with reports of coral bleaching being observed in some parts.

Due to the recent heatwave and hot dry summer, water temperatures across the Reef are increasing with some areas 2C to 3C warmer on average this month creating conditions which could see another bleaching event across much of the Reef over the next few weeks.

It would be Queensland’s third major coral bleaching event in five years, with the others in 2016 and 2017.

An alert level of one, under which 'significant bleaching is likely', is currently in place from the northern to southern reaches of the Reef.

Great Barrier Reef Legacy Managing Director, Dr Dean Miller, said they are monitoring the situation.

“It’s been hot and it’s been still for weeks on end, which are the perfect conditions for bleaching,” Dr Miller said.

“We’re watching the situation very closely and are starting to get reports in that there are low levels of bleaching being seen across the reef.

“With every bleaching event, we lose the most vulnerable corals and reefs, which is why we need to put the Living Coral Biobank Project into action immediately particularly in the far north which is where the bleaching is currently being observed. This is the area of highest concern with back to back bleaching in 2016/17, and cyclone Trevor having devastating impacts on reefs there,” he said.

However, there is some good news, with the weekend’s heavy rainfall, as well as more showers and storms, forecast along the north Queensland coast this week, a dump of much-needed cooler water into the Coral Sea will help bring temperatures down and could prevent bleaching occurring.

Great Barrier Reef Legacy has urged people out on the reef to report bleaching and non-bleaching areas, as both are equally as important to understand the severity, to the Eye on The Reef app with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

GBRMPA is investigating reports of bleaching using spot checks by divers, helicopter patrols, and citizen science observations helping to build a bigger picture.

In a video released today by Calypso Productions the current health of the Reef was displayed with Gareth Phillips, a Marine Biologist from Reef Teach, saying that they are quite confident that if the extreme heat doesn’t continue, we will have a fairly healthy reef system at the end of summer.

“As you can see, although we have a few individual colonies bleaching, some are a bit paler, overall multiply species are full of colour and are still healthy,” he said.

See video by Calypso Productions below:

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