The ABC reports today that the Great Barrier Reef is recovering “surprisingly” fast.
Optimism is rising among scientists that parts of the Great Barrier Reef that were severely bleached over the past two years are making a recovery.
Scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science this month surveyed 14 coral reefs between Cairns and Townsville to see how they fared after being bleached.
The institute’s Neil Cantin said they were surprised to find the coral had already started to reproduce.
Who would have thought that after 5,000 years of climate change, sea level change, temperature change, and super-storms every 200 years — that the Great Barrier Reef would have something left up its sleeve?
Much of the ABC reporting on the Great Barrier Reef damage uses vague terms. If I was feeling cruel, I might call them “weasel words”:
Nearly two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef was affected by bleaching in 2016 and 2017, killing up to 50 per cent of coral in those parts.
So which parts are “those parts”? Did 50% of the corals die in two-thirds of the reef? Or was two-thirds of the reef been affected by a small amount of bleaching while a much smaller number of reefs were hit by the apocalyptic 50% death-rate? There must be a better way to describe the damage. As it is, it is a number mush. (If only the ABC had a dedicated science unit they would be able to make sense of difficult concepts like this.)
“What it means is the corals along the entire Great Barrier Reef, are survivors that are going to reproduce earlier than expected which could help drive quicker recovery if we don’t see another heat stress this summer,” he said.
“This is a positive news story for a change for the Great Barrier Reef. We’re seeing eggs and we hope those eggs will lead to somewhat of a successful spawning season this summer.”
When climate-sameness would be remarkable…
The Barrier Reef survived the Holocene peak for hundreds of years, so we might assume that the reef has ways to deal with hotter conditions and changing temperatures. Sea levels in Queensland were 1 – 2 meters higher 5,000 years ago. (Lewis 2012) Super cyclones have been hitting the coast of Queensland for the last 5,000 years and there is no sign that storms are getting worse. (see Nott 2001 and Hayne 2001.)
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