Diving in to check up on our coral health
THE ONLY way to measure how Mackay's corals fare during the current global bleaching event will be through long-term monitoring, a job research group Reef Check Australia have stepped up to take on.
The organisation has monitored sites on the Great Barrier Reef between Port Douglas and the Whitsundays for as long as 14 years, but never had the funding to extend through to Mackay prior to this year.
However, in March, Gemma Molinaro and a team of three other volunteers spent a weekend setting up four new monitoring locations at Keswick and Wigton reefs, thanks to Reef Catchments funding.
While their results indicated minor bleaching of 5-15%, they planned to return to the sites and collect new data each year in order to gauge long-term trends.
"If we see these sites once it's like taking a snapshot," Ms Molinaro said.
"But as we collect data over a longer time period, we will be able to establish a baseline and see changes."
Nevertheless, the snapshot indicated much lower bleaching than northern parts of the reef.
Ms Molinaro also believed a fundamental step in promoting reef health was encouraging the community to get involved.
Later this year the team plans to teach community members how they can contribute to help promote reef health.