Unfortunately,throughout the years this massive marine ecosystem network we call the GreatBarrier Reef of Australia is exposed to many controlled and uncontrolled riskfactors; therefore, management personnel of the reefevery summer conduct surveys of the networks overall health.
Summer is key tothese assessments because it is when the Barrier Reef is at most risk whetherit is from severe weather such as cyclones, heat waves and or flooding. Theseuncontrolled factors can lead the coral beds to very stressful conditions and subsequentlyleads to substantial coral disease. Results of these surveys are what helpmanagement in real time with current conditions of the Reef in order to laterhelp with the increase of health and resilience of the system.
The most currentreport covered data starting from December 2016 through April 2017 of the system,which was exposed to incredible above average heat stress principally comingfrom sea surface temperatures. During cyclone season (November-April), theAustralian shoreline was hit by a devastating (category 4) storm – Debbie.Cyclone Debbie was recorded to be the most dangerous since 2011 and thestrongest since 2015 to impact the Australian region.
The tropical storm hitArlie Beach, Queensland and swept across the coastline on March 2017. Aftermathfollowing Debbie’s unforgiving hit effected the central and southern regions ofthe Great Barrier Reef system bringing substantial amounts of rainfall followedby extensive flooding episodes causing then flood plumes. Flood plumes wereexperience at the end of March 2017 after the cyclone and through the wholemonth of April meaning the utmost concentration of pollutants were at uttermostconcentrations effecting reefs and other coastal marine ecosystems. Some reefssuffered a 95% loss of coral cover and it is predicted by Angus Thompson, headof the inshore reef monitoring program, that a decade must pass before reachingprior coral cover (Figure 1), (McLeish, 2017).