Over the weekend of 20 July Reef Check Australia ventured into the waters of the Whitsundays to complete surveys across the region.
GBR Coordinator Nathan Cook was accompanied by Reef Check divers Richard Knight and newly certified RCA diver Ben Corbishley to undertake 5 surveys at offshore Hardy Reef, and nearshore reefs at Luncheon and Butterfly Bay, Hook Island and Blue Pearl Bay, Hayman Island.
The offshore reefs were looking ok with signs of good recovery from the devastating effects of Cyclone Debbie. Inshore, the story was quite different with low coral cover recorded at Luncheon and Blue Pearl Bay. Despite this, we did notice some signs of recovery with new coral recruits evident across all sites.
This project is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. We are also thankful to Cruise Whitsundays and Ocean Rafting for their invaluable logistical support to access the sites.
In 2016, the Reef Check Team established four new survey sites in the Mackay region.
With help from the Mackay Dive Club and Megaforce Charters new sites were created on Keswick and Wigdon Islands. These reefs are located in the South Cumberland islands. While perhaps not as well-known as neighbouring reefs to the north in the Whitsundays, surveyors were thrilled to visit these new fringing reef locations.
Good to only see relatively low levels of bleaching (6-12%), given some more startling bleaching reports from other areas further north. Will be keeping in contact with local operators for any updates on condition. These sites help provide new knowledge of reef health and monitor changes in years to come.
This project is supported through Reef Catchments and we look forward to continuing to expand our work in this region.