For the past three weeks we have been sharing with you the jaw-dropping beauty of a healthy reef. But in this post we want to show you what a damaged, vulnerable reef looks like.
Most of you will have heard about the terrible damage the Great Barrier Reef and other reefs in the world are suffering as a result of global warming. When you see our posts, some of you may be wondering and be lulled into a sense of “it’s not so bad after all”. Well unfortunately a significant portion of the Great Barrier Reef is damaged, some possibly beyond recovery and as we travel north, more and more evidence of the damage will be obvious.
Here is a map of the Reef we included in a previous post.
Back to back coral bleaching in 2016 and 2017 hit two thirds of the Great Barrier Reef. 67% of the corals died in a 700 km northern section of the Reef. This was due to a combination of high temperature literally cooking the coral, tropical cyclones smashing corals and exacerbating coastal run off, but all related to global warming.
81% of reefs were bleached in the northern sector, 33% in the central section and 1% in the southern sector where we are currently. This is why we have enjoyed vibrant corals and rich fish life in the main. But yet even in these parts there is damage and the fringing reef is vulnerable. A damaged reef not only loses its vibrant coral, it also loses the fish population so crucial to its recovery. We have seen damage in some parts of the Keppels: some totally white, bleached coral and some that was bleached in earlier years and is now covered with algae. It looks lifeless, brown, choked to death, unable to sustain significant fishlife. These images were taken at Humpy and Miall Islands.
We will get a better idea of the state of the Reef as we progress northward. But for this year, we are unlikely to go much beyond the Whitsundays, at the southern end of the central section of the Reef.
This is a more somber post than usual, but one we felt compelled to publish.