The first stage of a three-year program commissioned by Parks Australia to monitor the health of coral reefs in the Coral Sea begins this week.
The Australian Government has provided $1,065,180 to fund the research and James Cook University will be contributing an extra $800,000 in-kind.
Scientists from James Cook University and Parks Australia staff will spend a total of 100 days at sea over three years, monitoring the health of 20 large reef ecosystems each year. Scientists and Parks Australia staff will gain a better understanding of coral reef ecosystems, including how reefs are connected, the impacts of coral bleaching and how reefs are recovering. They will also be looking at the levels and impact of marine debris in the region.
The Coral Sea has significant populations of internationally threatened species as well as species found nowhere else in the world. It is a popular place for fishing and diving, with visitors from around the world experiencing its offshore reefs, sand cays and deeper waters.