by Owen Jacques
February 06, 2023
from ABC Website

A diver takes a closer look

 at a coral reef off the Sunshine Coast,

which is far more abundant

than experts expected.

(Supplied: Chris Roelfsema)


Key points:

  • UQ researchers and dive club volunteers set out to examine the reefs to keep them busy through COVID restrictions

  • The coral found off the Sunshine Coast was 54 per cent beyond what was expected

  • The lead researcher hopes more people visit the area to explore the coral and ensure it is protected

Researchers have uncovered an abundance of healthy, thriving coral along a heavily developed coastline - far beyond what the team expected when they first pitched the project.

University of Queensland researchers and dive club volunteers wanted a project to focus on as COVID restrictions took hold and limited their ability to work and travel.

A pitch was made to re-examine 11 reefs off Queensland's Sunshine Coast, particularly around Mudjimba Island and the popular tourist destination of Mooloolaba.

Associate Professor Chris Roelfsema brought together researchers and 50 volunteers from the UQ dive club to help.

Dr. Roelfsema said what they found was incredible.

A group of divers and researchers

survey reefs off the Sunshine Coast

as part of a two-year project.

(Supplied: Chris Roelfsema)

"We looked at so many different sites - every time we put our heads underwater, the volunteers went down and they did surveys," he said.

"And they saw coral, and every time it was a significant amount of coral, and we didn't expect it.

"We noticed that there was an enormous amount of coral there that we didn't realize was there - and not in a couple of spots but in the 11 spots we visited.

"And that's a big deal that there's so much coral so close to a major urban area."

He estimated the coral cover was 54 per cent beyond what was expected.


Beachgoers at Mooloolaba in 2020,

not far from where divers surveyed the reefs.

ABC News: Tara Cassidy




From COVID to coral discovery

Dr. Roelfsema said the project was a chance for divers to escape the stress of COVID while learning more about local waters.

"The challenges of COVID required us to do something positive with our time because we couldn't travel as much and we couldn't do as much," he said.

"We wanted to take care that people were distracted from all the stress resulting from COVID.

"The other thing is that we all are eager to help the marine environment and to take care of local reefs."

Researchers say

 there is 54 per cent more coral

in the area than first thought.

(Supplied: Chris Roelfsema)

The project involved 8,000 hours of training, collecting, and analyzing data obtained from the underwater landscapes.

"They basically can show and take care of their local reefs and show how important they are," Dr. Roelfsema said.

Beyond simply the amount of coral revealed by the two-year survey, the team also found little sign of crown-of-thorns starfish - which prey on coral - and almost no hint of coral bleaching.

Dr. Roelfsema said he hoped the findings encouraged more people to explore the reefs and coral along the Sunshine Coast and ensure their protection.

"It creates awareness with the local community and may also further attract people to visit these areas, and realize how beautiful they are, how important, and how great the fish life is."

An abundance of thriving coral

was found off popular

Sunshine Coast beaches.

(Supplied: Chris Roelfsema)








World's Coral Reefs Not Declining

-   New Paper Reveals   -

by Dr. Benny Peiser
February 08, 2023
from ClimateChangeDispatch Website







A new paper (Coral in a Warming World - Causes for Optimism) published by the Global Warming Policy Foundation refutes alarmist claims about the state of the world's coral reefs.


According to the author, eminent reef scientist Peter Ridd, the official data show no signs of any long-term trends in reef health.

Indeed, the best records - for Australia's Great Barrier Reef - suggest that coral cover is at record highs.


Dr. Ridd said:

"The public is constantly told that reefs are being 'irreparably damaged' by global warming, but bleaching events, about which there is so much doom-mongering, are simply corals' natural response to changes in the environment.


They are an extraordinarily adaptable lifeform, and bleaching events are almost always followed by rapid recovery."

Dr. Ridd suggests that rather than being seen as under threat from climate change, corals should actually be recognized as one of the organisms least likely to suffer harm in a 'warming' world.

"Corals get energy from a symbiotic relationship with various species of algae.


When environmental conditions change, they [coral] can rapidly switch to a different species that is better suited to the new conditions.


This shapeshifting means that most setbacks they suffer will be short-lived."

Dr. Ridd says that the real risks to reefs come from overfishing and pollution.


The GWPF invited responses to this paper from authors likely to dissent from its conclusions. None of the authors who were contacted accepted this invitation.