Scientists check reef for cyclone damage

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Following the devastation wrought by cyclone Larry in Queensland, Australia, marine scientists are uncertain as to whether the medium to long-term effects on the Great Barrier Reef will be positive or negative overall.

Certainly some scientists have a grim outlook for the coral reefs that were directly in the path of cyclone Larry, reports ABC news.

Coral bleaching experts from research ship Pelican One are going to inspect reefs off Innisfail.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Dr Paul Marshall says cyclones can rip apart coral clusters, leaving behind bare patches.

“It’s unclear yet whether that’s happened and that’s one of the things we’ll be aiming to look at,” he said.

“But certainly we’d expect some fairly significant damage, lots of broken corals, lots of areas where it’s just been broken and pulverised.

“So it’ll be fairly disheartening to see, but an important thing to realise is that cyclones are a natural part of the ecosystem.”

However, according to University of Queensland coral reef expert Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, while cyclone Larry has been a nightmare on land, underwater it may have helped save the Great Barrier Reef from disaster.

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg said Larry’s wind had cooled ocean temperatures that had skyrocketed this summer and threatened to bleach the corals of the Reef.