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In areas across the Great Barrier Reef, coral is declining at a devastating rate. However, all hope is not lost. The recent discovery of an island with amazing coral growth has given scientists some hope for the future.
The study took place on One Tree Island after a severe lashing by Cyclone Hamish in 2009. After the storm, the coral population took a rough hit in growth and declined by 75%. But then, between 2014 and 2017, the trajectory of the reef changed. A team of scientists watched the coral calcification process increase by four-fold.
Kay Davis, a Southern Cross University researcher, says, “we found that the coral ecosystem has completely recovered from this cyclone event after eight years. Not only is the calcification of the reef recovering, there was a visible increase in the amount of coral as well; with coral cover increasing by 30 to 40 percent.”
The reef in the area has been thriving as a result of restrictions that protect the waters from harvesting of any kind. A marine biologist that works in the area, Rachael Jones, says, “We haven’t had any significant bleaching or coral disease because we’re on the southern part of the Great Barrier Reef. I just keep seeing diversity of life here every day because we are in a green zone- you can’t fish, you can’t take anything, everything’s protected by law. That’s when you see ecosystems thrive.”
It is a ray of hope for coral reefs battling against rising ocean temperatures and acidification.