Floods hit reef in a major way write CQUniversity researcher
A CQUNIVERSITY researcher says the impact of catchment pollutants on the Great Barrier Reef is nothing compared to the devastation caused by a reduction in salinity following major floods.
In the PLOS ONE journal this week, Dr Alison Jones discusses the flooding of the Fitzroy River after record rainfall from Tropical Cyclone Tasha in December 2010.
"A massive flood plume inundated coral reefs lying 12km offshore of the Central Queensland coast near Yeppoon and caused 40-100% mortality to coral fringing many of the islands of Keppel Bay, down to a depth of around 8m on some reefs," she wrote.
"The severity of coral mortality was influenced by the level of exposure to low salinity seawater as a result of the reef's distance from the flood plume.
"There was no evidence in this study of mortality resulting from pollutants derived from the nearby Fitzroy Catchment, at least in the short term, suggesting that during a major flood, the impact of low salinity on corals outweighs that of pollutants."