Researchers Uncover ‘Enormous Amount Of Coral’ Thriving On Sunshine Coastline
Researchers have uncovered an abundance of healthy, thriving coral along a heavily developed coastline — far beyond what the team expected when they first pitched the project.
University of Queensland researchers and dive club volunteers wanted a project to focus on as COVID restrictions took hold and limited their ability to work and travel. [emphasis, links added]
A pitch was made to re-examine 11 reefs off Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, particularly around Mudjimba Island and the popular tourist destination of Mooloolaba.
Associate Professor Chris Roelfsema brought together researchers and 50 volunteers from the UQ dive club to help.
Dr. Roelfsema said what they found was incredible.
“We looked at so many different sites — every time we put our heads underwater, the volunteers went down and they did surveys,” he said.
“And they saw coral, and every time it was a significant amount of coral, and we didn’t expect it.
“We noticed that there was an enormous amount of coral there that we didn’t realize was there — and not in a couple of spots but in the 11 spots we visited.
“And that’s a big deal that there’s so much coral so close to a major urban area.”
He estimated the coral cover was 54 percent beyond what was expected. …snip…
Beyond simply the amount of coral revealed by the two-year survey, the team also found little sign of crown-of-thorns starfish — which prey on coral — and almost no hint of coral bleaching.
Dr. Roelfsema said he hoped the findings encouraged more people to explore the reefs and coral along the Sunshine Coast and ensure their protection.
“It creates awareness with the local community and may also further attract people to visit these areas, and realize how beautiful they are, how important, and how great the fish life is.”
Top image via University of Queensland
Read rest at ABC News
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