Talbot Bay coral discovery defies conventional belief

Talbot Bay coral discovery defies conventional belief
The clarity of the water is affected by this large inter-tidal flow thus the discovery of corals in this environment is a surprise. Credit: Flickr: Waltzing Van

Kimberley coral reefs are thriving in turbid inter-tidal conditions and defying conventional scientific understandings that corals need clear oceanic waters to survive.

Marine biologist Dr. Barry Wilson last year spent time at Turtle Reef in Talbot Bay, on advice from One Arm Point’s Bardi-Jawi people.

Dr. Wilson says there is greater diversity of coral species in Kimberley reefs than in oceanic atolls or the Great Barrier Reef.

“There have been 318 species of corals recorded now on the Kimberley coast,” he says.

Researchers in the late 1940s said the Kimberley had “a profusion of ordinary fringing reefs”.

Dr. Wilson says they were right about the profusion of Kimberley reefs, but not about them being ordinary.

Known to survive at a depth of 60 metres in clear oceanic waters, Dr. Wilson has found Talbot Bay corals as deep as 20 metres in turbid, muddy conditions.

Dr. Wilson says non-Indigenous scientists would not normally look for corals in locations such as Turtle Reef.

“The water is very far from clear and oceanic—it’s turbid and the light doesn’t penetrate far. It’s not the sort of environment [conventional] corals require, yet we’ve got this prolific growth of corals,” he says

“This is in a land-locked gulf, you’ve really got to navigate your way in and you will have [difficulty] getting out if you don’t know your way.

“[The environment] is macro-tidal, [it has] eleven metres of tidal flow twice a day.

“As a consequence … the current flows away and you get whirlpools in the ocean,” he says.

The clarity of the water is affected by this large inter-tidal flow thus the discovery of corals in this environment is a surprise.

About 70 per cent of the Talbot Bay corals appear to be common to Queensland’s Barrier Reef.

Dr. Wilson suspects the remaining 30 per cent will be found in Indonesia’s Maluku province, because of its proximity to Australia. He says the discovery turns conventional thought about on its head.

“This is the sort of information which some people will find difficult to believe because they have all been taught that corals all need clear oceanic water and it’s not true,” he says.

The original article 'Reconnaissance of species-rich in a muddy, macro-tidal, enclosed embayment, – Talbot Bay, Kimberley, Western Australia' has been published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia issue 94.

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Source: ScienceNetwork Western Australia
Citation: Talbot Bay coral discovery defies conventional belief (2011, November 9) retrieved 18 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2011-11-talbot-bay-coral-discovery-defies.html
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User comments

Nov 09, 2011
discovery defies conventional belief

That is precisely why science depends on observations, not models nor conventional beliefs!

May this story be a reminder to the Western scientific community to awaken to reality and abandon dogma!

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo
Career Summary (1961-2011)

Nov 09, 2011
Actually, the idea that coral is fragile and has very specific needs is central to some political agendas.

Nov 10, 2011
Oliver Manuel's recent efforts to plaster Physorg.com and other public news sites with his theories and personal URLs are a bit puzzling, as scientists have a variety of publications available to communicate directly to each other in. My best guess is that he is desperately trying to prop up his legacy in light of his arrest in his university office on 7 charges of rape and sodomy based on allegations by 4 of his own children. The charges have been reduced to one count of felony attempted sodomy, not necessarily because of his innocence, but because of the statute of limitations. One can only guess how the recent charges and decades of family strife have affected his ability to reason rationally and to remain objective while defending his unpopular theories.


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