Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Missing News: Great Barrier Reef - no net decline between 1995 and 2009

Another story missing in action. This one about a paper published back in March in the journal PLoS One. The paper titled Disturbance and the Dynamics of Coral Cover on the Great Barrier Reef (1995–2009) by Kate Osborne, Andrew M. Dolman, Scott C. Burgess  and Kerryn A. Johns includes the following findings (below), that appear to contradict recent claims reported by the ABC made by a certain coral whisperer.

"Monitoring data collected annually from fixed sites at 47 reefs across 1300 km of the GBR indicate that overall regional coral cover was stable (averaging 29% and ranging from 23% to 33% cover across years) with no net decline between 1995 and 2009."

"Crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci) outbreaks and storm damage were responsible for more coral loss during this period than either bleaching or disease despite two mass bleaching events and an increase in the incidence of coral disease. "

"While the limited data for the GBR prior to the 1980's suggests that coral cover was higher than in our survey, we found no evidence of consistent, system-wide decline in coral cover since 1995." 

"This study indicates that at the scale of the whole GBR there was no net decline in live hard coral cover between 1995 and 2009."

"Surveys in 1998 and 2002 identified large areas of reef where coral was bleached. Our results indicate that mortality was not widespread or severe at depths of 6–9 meters. "

 "The impact of bleaching and coral disease, to date, was not severe on our sites."

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