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Learning the HARD way...
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Super Fuzzy Moderator
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Not sure that a "like" is appropriate but yes this is most unfortunate and quite sad.
 

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Learning the HARD way...
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Discussion Starter #3
"thanks"

...and thanks for the like!
 

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Living the dream
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It's an El Nino year that has had unusually warm weather and a virtually non existent wet season. Similar events occurred in '98. Whilst bleaching can be caused by both too warm and too cool waters, it seems that sediment run-off from the land is also a driving factor.
 

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I was there (Queensland) a few years back - land-based. You had to motor out for 1-2 hours to get to a halfway decent dive site (and I mean halfway decent, not great). I asked the locals and they said the inshore coral had been destroyed by agricultural runoff (nitrates and pesticides).

Much of the remainder of the reef was weakened, not destroyed. Ocean acidification is clearly having an impact, as well as (in some areas) pollutants dumped in the water - although some government action has been taken to reduce this.

And then, of course, there is the Crown of Thorns starfish which continues to do tremendous damage, and is a sadly familiar sight to a bubblehead like me (scuba diver)

I'm just scratching the surface - it's a complex problem, with no single root cause, but right now it seems like the perfect storm for many coral reefs worldwide.
 

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Living the dream
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I was there (Queensland) a few years back - land-based. You had to motor out for 1-2 hours to get to a halfway decent dive site (and I mean halfway decent, not great). I asked the locals and they said the inshore coral had been destroyed by agricultural runoff (nitrates and pesticides).

Much of the remainder of the reef was weakened, not destroyed. Ocean acidification is clearly having an impact, as well as (in some areas) pollutants dumped in the water - although some government action has been taken to reduce this.

And then, of course, there is the Crown of Thorns starfish which continues to do tremendous damage, and is a sadly familiar sight to a bubblehead like me (scuba diver)

I'm just scratching the surface - it's a complex problem, with no single root cause, but right now it seems like the perfect storm for many coral reefs worldwide.
I blame tourists for a lot of damage. Here's the test: If the fish are friendly, you can bet the coral will be trampled and in a poor state. If the fish are timid the coral is generally pristine. Having said that, tourists only descend en masse on a very small fraction of the reef overall. As for needing to go a long way offshore, that's because for most of the reef's length the "true" reefs are quite a way off shore. There are, however, many areas of healthy reef available to tourists a short run from the mainland in many places.
 

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Once known as Hartley18
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I blame tourists for a lot of damage. Here's the test: If the fish are friendly, you can bet the coral will be trampled and in a poor state. If the fish are timid the coral is generally pristine. Having said that, tourists only descend en masse on a very small fraction of the reef overall. As for needing to go a long way offshore, that's because for most of the reef's length the "true" reefs are quite a way off shore. There are, however, many areas of healthy reef available to tourists a short run from the mainland in many places.
That's not too far off the mark.

As kids growing up in FNQ in the '70s we enjoyed scaring tourists that enjoyed "reef-walking" (that's wandering around on top of the reef at low tide, picking up shells and stuff - and is generally discouraged now) a.k.a. "reef-destroying" by telling them stories about all the nasties out there waiting to wound, main or kill them:
- Stonefish (step on one and you'll regret your visit for the rest of your life)
- Stinging coral (lives up it it's name)
- Blue-ringed octopus (venomous)
- Cone shells (will fire a venomous dart at you even out of the water)
- Giant clams (waiting to grab you and hold you until the tide comes back in)
- Moray eels (don't stick your hand in that crevice there - you'll have no fingers left!)

"Hey, look! It's a (totally harmless black-tipped reef) SHARK!!" "Quick, get out of the water.. he's going to eat you!!"

Yep, those were the days! :grin
 

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Corals have been getting bleached around the world from time immemorial. Most recover and whilst I haven't done the research I'm sure that GBR has been through this before.

I sailed to Seychelles in 2003 - they had a very warm El Niño in 1998 that all but wiped out the coral. Much of the damage was to the inner islands that were located on the Seychelles Bank. The shallower waters exacerbate the El Niño effect with waters even warmer than other deeper-water areas. Mauritius for example lies in much deeper water and wasn't nearly as badly effected.

Seychelles coral is now recovering to some extent (some reefs are not) albeit 16 years later but surely that is evidence that GBR should not be relegated to the annals of history.

Unless of course man-made conditions prevail and recovery is thereby prevented . . .
 

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Living the dream
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Exactly. The peanut gallery swallowing the "reef is dying" tabloid headlines hook, line and sinker should dig a little deeper in their research.

E.g.

http://www.aims.gov.au/reef-monitoring/whitsunday-pompey-and-swain-sectors-2015

On the topic of the current bleaching event, the primary cause is a few months of high SST'S caused by a combination of weather patterns and conditions. Whilst climate change may have some influence, it is not the root cause of the problem which makes CC related discussion in this thread irrelevant.

http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/media-room/latest-news/coral-bleaching/2016/low-level-coral-bleaching-on-the-great-barrier-reef

Just remember folks, news organisations sell stories. Which can be fact or fiction or anywhere in between.
 

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re: Australia's Great Barrier Reef is dying. (With Climate Change Discussion)

Here is the Australian Research Council's statement on the event:

Aerial surveys of more than 500 coral reefs from Cairns to Papua New Guinea reveal that the most pristine section of the Great Barrier Reef is currently experiencing the worst, mass bleaching event in its history, with the overwhelming majority of reefs being ranked in the most severe bleaching category.

“This has been the saddest research trip of my life,” says Prof. Terry Hughes, convenor of the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce. “Almost without exception, every reef we flew across showed consistently high levels of bleaching, from the reef slope right up onto the top of the reef. We flew for 4000km in the most pristine parts of the Great Barrier Reef and saw only four reefs that had no bleaching. The severity is much greater than in earlier bleaching events in 2002 or 1998.”

“Even more concerning, we haven’t yet found the southern limit of the bleaching,” explains Prof. Hughes. “We’ll be conducting further aerial surveys this week in the central Great Barrier Reef to identify where it stops. Thankfully, the southern Reef has dodged a bullet due to cloudy weather that cooled the water temperatures down.”

Multiple research vessels and island research stations are also documenting the coral bleaching, with in-water research confirming what is clearly seen from the air, that the majority of reefs north of Cairns are undergoing bleaching and that virtually all species of corals are being affected.

“We could see extensive bleaching even among the most robust ‘massive’ corals,” says James Kerry, Project Manager of the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce, who also participated in the aerial surveys. “The fact that these hardy species have also turned white shows just how severe summer conditions have become on the northern GBR.

“Residents we spoke to in Cape York were shocked by what they are seeing, telling us that they had never experienced anything like this before.”

“Scientists in the water are already reporting up to 50% mortality of bleached corals,” says Prof. Hughes, “but it’s still too early to tell just what the overall outcome will be. We will continue to conduct underwater surveys along the Great Barrier Reef in the coming months as the full impact of this mass bleaching event unfolds.”
Coral Bleaching Taskforce documents most severe bleaching on record ? ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

The link has some aerial video footage of the bleaching.
 

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Living the dream
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It's all about perspective....


http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/great-barrier-reef-coral-bleaching-queensland-tourism-body-downplays-damage-20160404-gny9nr.html

The Great Barrier Reef is in the midst of its worst coral bleaching event on record, but at least one tourist body says scientists' claims are overstated.

Some 1300 kilometres of reefs from Papua New Guinea south to Townsville have been surveyed by air, with scientists painting a bleak picture.

" ... Seventy-five per cent of corals north of Cairns are snow white," Professor Terry Hughes, convenor of the National Coral Bleaching Taskforce, said on Monday.

"The amount of corals in the northern third (of the reef) used to be substantially higher than further south. That's no longer the case."

Last week Professor Hughes said the damage extended further south than first thought, with some 74 reefs between Cairns and Townsville on average bleached 25-30 per cent.

However, Tourism Tropical North Queensland chief executive officer Alex de Waal believes areas off Cairns and Port Douglas, where most boat tours visit, are "looking great".

"Our operators have reported just a few isolated incidents of staghorn coral bleaching in the areas they operate," he said.

Divers from the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators (AMPTO) and other organisations are carrying out underwater surveys of the reef.

They say a close examination is needed to determine the true extent of bleaching.

"In the last two weeks AMPTO has already conducted more than 100 Reef Health Indicator Surveys (RHIS) on reefs off Cairns that show a bleaching average of less than 5 per cent," AMPTO executive director Col McKenzie said.

"Of course, the current bleaching event is very concerning but we need the facts before we react emotionally."
 

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Super Fuzzy Moderator
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There has been some discussion behind the scenes as to whether or not a discussion on climate change, causes and effects, is relevent in On Topic. To my mind the OP was at least vaguely appropriate but since then the thread has, probably pedictably, jumped the shark. I'm moving the thread itself to Off Topic. Not PRWG, because I accept the argument that this is not any of those things. Otoh I think the bulk of the conversation thus far has diddly squat to do with sailing. Of interest to sailors no doubt but not specific enough. That after all is why we have Off Topic. Where issues can be discussed that are of interest to many of us but are not, as I said, specifically sailing related.

The thread will be closed for a few minutes while I make the changes. I intend to leave a much truncated version in Destinations but it will be closed to further comment.
 

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Super Fuzzy Moderator
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Ok ... the bulk of thread has been copied to Off Topic, the basics as per OP are still here. Yes that means some duplication but I'm sure we can live with that.
To avoid this thread going off the rails again It will be closed permanently.

Thanks to Ed (eherlihy) for the OP and my apologies if his thread now looks a bit like a mangey dog.

For the other discussion please go here ....

http://www.sailnet.com/forums/off-topic/247625-australias-great-barrier-reef-dying-climate-change-discussion.html
 
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