My last snorkel in the Whitsundays!
While the reef here is not what it used to be, there’s still plenty to see under the water. While the bottom is covered with a layer of brown murky sediment and the water somewhat cloudy, seeing the bright fish life and the new corals, is still my favourite pastime here in the Whitsundays. The soft corals are growing back and look very healthy. The fish life has been plentiful, particularly the juvenile fish. I haven’t seen many larger fish but the Parrotfish have been abundant. This is a good sign as these fish clean up the reef, making room for new coral to grow. Their strong bird-like teeth (hence their name) grind up the coral rubble in to sand. They clean the surface of the coral, allowing new coral to grow.
While we refer to the damage Cyclone Debbie did to the reef last year, it seems there is more concern about coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef. The main cause of coral bleaching is increased water temperatures and poor water quality due to pollution. There is minor bleaching here in the Whitsundays but unless we know what we are looking for, perhaps it is not noticed by a novice snorkeler.
How long will it take for the coral reef to grow back here? My limited reading indicates growth rates of .3 to 2 centimetres per year for big corals and up to 10 centimetres per year for branching corals. Scientists feel it will take 10 years for the reef to recover here after 95% of coral was damaged by Cyclone Debbie.
Here’s a few pics from my last visits underwater …