Coral bleaching 'worse by the day'
AS CORAL bleaching to the north of Bundaberg intensifies, only a minimal amount is recorded as occurring off our coast.
However Bundaberg Aqua Scuba owners Julian and Lynne Negri remain concerned as water temperatures hover above average.
They said more coral was feeling the effect of the warmer weather and the situation was getting worse by the day.
"It is newsworthy as it is happening now, with a hotter than hot summer," Mrs Negri said.
The NewsMail first reported individual coral bleaching offshore at Barolin Rocks in January.
In February, more coral was reported bleached and later confirmed by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
Last week, new photos emerged of a type of encrusting plate coral that had also succumbed to bleaching at Hoffman's Rocks.
A spokesman from the GBRMPA said the images supplied from Hoffman's Rocks were outside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.
"The images show some of the coral is bleaching, however there are other healthy corals in the image," the spokesman said.
"This doesn't necessarily mean there is mass bleaching in this area."
Bleaching occurs when stressful conditions, such as heat, occur.
Mass coral bleaching events have only ever occurred during unusually high sea temperatures.
On Thursday, Mr Negri said the water temperature offshore was still a balmy 27 degrees.
Mr Negri said his concern was some of the coral may have been bleached beyond return and any run-off from farm land due to the recent rain would not help.
The GBRMPA spokesman said inshore corals stressed by local factors such as pollution could be more susceptible to bleaching.
"Our Outlook Report indicates climate change, declining water quality, coastal development and illegal fishing are the biggest threats to the Great Barrier Reef," he said.
The Australian and Queensland governments' Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan provides an overarching strategy for managing the Great Barrier Reef.
The plan responds to the challenges facing the Reef and presents actions to protect its values, health and resilience while allowing ecologically sustainable use.
GBRMPA urged anyone who noticed coral bleaching to report it to the Eye on the Reef program.The program, which helps monitor reef conditions, can be found at www.gbrmpa.gov.au/visit