Monitoring the Health of Torres Strait Coral Reefs

Project 2.3

Project Leader: Dr Ray Berkelmans - AIMS

AIMS researcher, Dr Ray Berkelmans and his team have successfully deployed and commissioned the first real-time observing station at Madge Reef, between Thursday and Horn Islands.

Installed and commissioned in early February 2012 with support from the NERP TE Hub and the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA), the station measures water temperature, salinity, and a range of weather variables such as light, wind, rain, and humidity.

Dr Berkelmans and his team will use this information to provide early warning of stressful conditions to coral reefs.

“The weather and wind information will be readily accessible by communities to make boating safer,” says Scott Bainbridge, who leads the real-time observing network for the GBR and the Torres Strait.

The team is also working on interactive, touch screen data displays known as kiosks. Kiosks deliver data from the observing station as well as other sources including BoM weather stations. In time they will also deliver other locally relevant information from Dr Berkelman’s and other NERP projects.

One data kiosk is currently operating in the TSRA Land and Sea Management Unit office on Thursday Island. Two more will be rolled out in the near future, in locations which will best benefit the local community. 

Resource surveys and on-ongoing monitoring of TS reefs is a major focus of this project with coral bleaching identified as a major threat to reef health in the Torres Strait after the first bleaching event in the region in living memory in early 2010.  A coral bleaching early warning system is in place in the Great Barrier Reef and the team is working to tailor it to Torres Strait conditions.

“The system is designed to provide timely information to Torres Strait communities, stakeholders and the wider public about coral bleaching,” explains Dr Berkelmans.

“An early warning system will also gives us the opportunity to mobilise additional resources to  determine how much coral is affected by bleaching,  what coral species are affected, how much recovers and dies and what it means for other reef organisms like fish, seagrass, turtles and dugongs.”



Contact: Ray Berkelmans

See more information about this project here.

Related Projects: 
Project 2.3 'Monitoring the health of Torres Strait coral reefs'