Widest coral in the Great Barrier Reef identified

great barrier reef
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An exceptionally large coral—a structure made up of small marine animals and calcium carbonate—discovered in the Great Barrier Reef is described in Scientific Reports this week. It is the widest and sixth tallest coral measured in the Great Barrier Reef.

The coral was discovered by snorkelers off the coast of Goolboodi (also known as Orpheus Island), part of the Palm Island Group in Queensland, Australia. It has been named Muga dhambi (Big coral) by the Manbarra people, the traditional custodians of the Palm Islands. Adam Smith and colleagues surveyed Muga dhambi and found that it is hemispherical, 5.3 meters tall and 10.4 meters wide, which makes it 2.4 meters wider than the next-widest coral measured in the Great Barrier Reef.

Using calculations based on coral growth rates and annual sea surface temperatures, the authors estimate that Muga dhambi is between 421 and 438 years old and predates European exploration and settlement of Australia. A review of the environmental events that have occurred in the past 450 years indicates that Muga dhambi may have survived up to 80 major cyclones and centuries of exposure to , coral bleaching events, low tides and human activity. The researchers report that Muga dhambi is in very with 70% consisting of live coral, the rest being covered with the green boring sponge, Cliona viridis, and .

The authors recommend monitoring of this rare and unusually resilient large coral and comment that restoration may be needed in the future to minimize the potential negative impacts of climate change, declining water quality, overfishing and coastal development

More information: Field measurements of a massive Porites coral at Goolboodi (Orpheus Island), Great Barrier Reef, Scientific Reports (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-94818-w , www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-94818-w

Journal information: Scientific Reports

Citation: Widest coral in the Great Barrier Reef identified (2021, August 19) retrieved 23 July 2024 from https://phys.org/news/2021-08-widest-coral-great-barrier-reef.html
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