Cyclone Debbie was the tenth severe category cyclone to affect the Great Barrier Reef since 2005. And there is no doubt that cyclones can have a devastating effect on coral reefs. Especially cyclones that are large, intense and slow moving like Debbie.
These effects can include both physical damage to corals in the cyclone’s path from waves, currents and sand movements, and impacts from resulting flood plumes that carry harmful nutrients and sediment from the land out to the ocean.
While the damage to islands, coral reefs, mangroves, seagrasses and other marine systems is still to be fully assessed, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority says that it could be both severe and extensive.
“What we’ve seen from previous cyclones is that that damage can often be patchy,” the Authority’s Dr Mark Read said.
“So whilst some areas might be completely destroyed, others might be relatively intact.”
The Authority is working with other agencies and its tourism industry partners to assess the impacts and to implement effective ways to assist coral recovery.