03 February 2006

Australia: Northern reefs next in line for bleaching

Scientists say north Queensland reefs are next in line to be hit by coral bleaching.

Up to 90 per cent of corals around the Keppel Islands on the central coast are turning white.

Doctor Ray Berkelmans from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) says many of the reefs are under stress because of above-average temperatures in December.

"Well the very worst of it seems to be in the Keppel Islands area and the Great Barrier Reef," he said.

"The Marine Park Authority and the University of Queensland have been out and two of AIMS staff have been out.

"The reports are in the vicinity of 80 to 90 per cent of the corals are at least in some stages of bleaching."

He says the weather in the north has increased the chances of further bleaching.

"Strong winds and rain and that's helped keep a lid on the temperatures since about Christmas but that seems to be dissipating now," he said.

"The low pressure systems have moved off the coast, we're back into clear skies again, a lot of sun light beating into the water and now we can see the water temperature rise day by day."

Related Articles:
Great Barrier Reef: Coral severely bleached
Australian oil spill 'tragedy for marine life'

Source: www.abc.net.au/news


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