Talk about cruel Summer!

Our 2023/2024 summer was incredibly warm for us. We saw water temperatures reach up to 30°C. The heightened water temperatures set off a bleaching event on our reefs.

Bleaching happens when extreme changes to the water conditions stress out corals. It is not only warm temperatures that can cause bleaching, but also :
– A decrease in visibility
– Changes in salinity
– High UV exposure
– Below average cold temperatures

Any of these changes for a prolonged period of time can upset the unique relationship between coral polyps and an algae called Zooxanthellae. Zooxanthellae is used by the corals as a energy source and it is also what gives coral its colour. Under extreme stress corals expel their algae and go into survival mode. This does not mean they are dead but they are more at risk. If their environment stabilises while they are in survival mode, they can return back to happy healthy corals. But in some cases it can be too late.

As part of the Tourism Reef Protection Initiative by the Reef Authority, our crew have been trained in collecting data in the form of Reef Health Impact Surveys. On every visit to the reef, our dedicated crew members have been gathering data that includes:
– Temperature
– Visibility
– Algae type and cover
– Coral Species
– Bleaching
– Fluorescing
– Coral disease and mortality

Our consistent data provides the Reef Authority with a timeline and accurate information of what is happening in our backyard. Arming them with the evidence of what environmental changes can do to our home. This valuable data can then be used to inform future resilience plans and management decisions.

This has been quite confronting and an emotional time for our team. But there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. We have be blown away by the many species of corals that have been unaffected, oblivious to what was happening. Our water temperatures are steadily stabilising to normal and our marine wildlife has not been deterred.

We openly invite our community to this conversation. Our team are open to sharing our experiences and information. If any local Agnes Water/1770 community groups would like an information presentation please contact us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *