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Government says Ningaloo Reef is on road to recovery
Stephen Scourfield An example of healthy coral

The Ningaloo Reef is showing good signs of recovery despite a report [in The West Australian] last week saying the World Heritage listed area faced the same consequences as its Queensland counterpart – the Great Barrier Reef.

Last week Jamie Oliver, the local head of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, was reported as saying the Ningaloo Reef faced threats from bleaching and cyclone damage in response to a report compiled on the Great Barrier Reef.

But Department of Environment and Conservation marine biologist Chris Simpson said the Ningaloo Reef has not changed significantly in the long-term.

“We are in the middle of an analysis which will show there has been a fluctuation year by year and even decade by decade but the amount of coral over 25 years has not decreased,” Mr Simpson said.

The Bureau of Meteorology in its three-month outlook said marine temperatures off the west coast from the North West Cape down to Geographe Bay were likely to be one degree above average.

Mr Simpson said one degree for a short period of time would not have an adverse effect on the reef structure.

Although the coral on Ningaloo was affected by the 2010 and 2011 marine heatwave where temperatures were recorded as up to four degrees above average, he said there had been a lot of recovery.

It was too general to say the Ningaloo was more resilient, he said, but the reef seemed to be buffered against the things which affected other reef structures around the world and other places in Western Australia.

ASHLEIGH TELFORD