Cyclone Yasi Reef Impacts
Cyclone Yasi hit the far north Australian coast on Feb 3, 2011, just a few weeks after devastating floods had swept through Queensland, affecting around 70 towns, 200,000 people and costing an estimated $1 billion in damages. It made landfall in Mission Beach, where the community had been completely evacuated in advance. ReRu specifically went to cover the issue of the flow of sediment out through the estuaries and the impact the the Great Barrier Reef, an important environmental story that was being passed over by mainstream who covered recovery efforts and political angles.
North-east Queensland in Australia had experienced the worst El Niña ever recorded over which has caused massive flooding of the Bowen and Fitzroy basins which in turn has flushed out large amounts of sediment, and tonnes of toxic sludge into the ocean from the massive coal mining industry, urban development and agricultural practices.
These huge ‘plumes’ of nutrients and contaminants were moving out towards the Great Barrier Reef since the massive flood event and continued while the flood waters were up. In this way, the floods threaten this national and tourist icon by making the reef more vulnerable to coral bleaching. If the Great Barrier reef sees a major coral bleaching event over the next year the whole ecosystem could spiral into decay leaving this tropical paradise, world’s biggest reef and delicate ecological treasure with cyclone decimated islands and coastline as well as an underwater graveyard.
ReRu covered the story for Greenpeace International as an environmental feature, the Sydney Morning Herald and Reuters Environment feed.