The Capricorn-Bunker region in the south of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is showing excellent signs of coral recovery, according to the latest results of the AIMS Long Term Monitoring Program. Coral cover for the area has more than doubled since being dramatically reduced during severe storms in 2008 and Tropical Cyclone Hamish in 2009.
Despite the improvements to the regions’ coral cover in recent years, hot conditions are forecasted for this summer and a coral bleaching event is predicted. A bleaching event would likely halt further recovery, or cause widespread coral death.
Disturbance events such as cyclones and storms are natural processes for coral reef communities, however there is concern that cumulative impacts are reducing 'reef resilience', or 'the ability of reefs to recover from such disturbances'. Pressures such as reduced water quality, increased water temperatures and crown-of-thorns starfish are all straining the ability of coral reefs to recover from disturbance events such as cyclones.
With reef data extending over 20 years, the AIMS Long Term Monitoring Program provides an invaluable record of change in coral reef communities over a large geographic area. Several trips are completed each year and full reports are available here.
For access to the October 2015 survey report for the Capricorn-Bunker sector, click here.
Visit here for more information about AIMS monitoring programs on the Great Barrier Reef and other tropical marine ecosystems.