Great Barrier Reef to Be Hosed Down, SMH.com.au, 11/02/06
Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Scientists are considering a plan to make the water of the Great Barrier Reef cooler for vulnerable corals, as part of a solution to climate change.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) executive director Andrew Skeat said the proposal would involve watering the surface of the ocean at peak times of heat stress to avoid coral bleaching.
"It's a proposal ... which would simply pump a fine spray of seawater onto the surface which would just break up the water surface and reduces the amount of (UV) radiation," Mr Skeat said.
"It's not an ecological scale solution to climate change, but it could be one response to keeping particular areas with high coral cover."
Little detail was available of how spraying would be implemented, but it would most likely involve relatively small, localised areas of particular high tourism value, with vulnerable coral.
Coral bleaching is caused by higher than average water temperatures linked with global climate change.
Mr Skeat, who participated in the Ecotourism Australia Conference in Townsville this week, said climate change would eventually affect the way tourism operated on the Great Barrier Reef.
He said a marine tourism working group, established to prepare for climate change on the reef, was considering other options such as permanently placing shade cloth over some areas.
Mr Skeat said studies had found the measure, first trialled in 2004, was effective in reducing radiation and coral bleaching.
"Whether it becomes practicable and cost effective is another question," he said.
Mr Skeat said the group also was looking at whether site-based operations could become "more flexible" and move to different parts of the reef during a significant coral bleaching event.
"There might have to be adjustments in people's operations if, for example, areas of the reef are damaged ... Those areas might have to be given a rest," he said.
"I have to say that the industry is positive about that, they're not fighting that."
Mr Skeat said while marine ecosystems around the world were at risk from climate change, Australia had "the best shot" of preserving its own because of stringent federal government management.
© 2006 AAP