On today’s 100 EPISODE of the Speak Up For Blue Podcast, we discuss the threats facing coral cover in the Great Barrier Reef. But first, I just wanted to send a special thank you to all of our listeners and readers out there. Without folks like you who are passionate and interested enough in ocean conservation issues to download our podcast, Andrew and I would probably put out some God-awful podcast on fantasy football or BBQ recipes. So thank you so much for sparing the world that garbage.
Today’s article is “Disturbance gradients on inshore and offshore coral reefs caused by a severe tropical cyclone,” authored by a team of scientists out of Australia. Led by Dr. Katharina Fabricius of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the authors examined changes in coral cover, biodiversity, and coral recruitment following cyclone Ingrid in 2005. While we at SUFB tend to focus on the anthropogenic (human-induced) threats facing coral reefs, we shouldn’t leave out the fact that hurricanes and cyclones are another significant factor affecting the physical structure of coral reefs. This study found that coral cover in the Great Barrier Reef decreased by an incredible 800% after Ingrid hit, while taxonomic richness and larval recruitment dropped by 250% and 30%, respectively. To put that in terms that more folks might appreciate, imagine you had nine adorable little puppies. And then a huge hurricane came and snatched up eight of them. That would be an 800% decrease, and what afflicted those cute little imaginary puppies is afflicting the most iconic coral reef on the planet.
These types of studies, while occasionally depressing, can greatly influence management strategies for coral reefs. While we may not (yet) be able to control and alter cyclones, we can better mitigate the potential impacts of these storms only when we begin to understand their impact.
Enjoy the Podcast!