We recently dived in the bay on the north side of Rattray Island. This was previously another of our favoured dive sites but was badly damaged by Cyclone Debbie (see post from March 2018). Although it is now two years since the cyclone this reef is still devastated; some of the corals have suffered further mortality since the cyclone, succumbing to cyclone inflicted damage. This island is about 15km offshore with underwater visibility of between 5 and 15m but during our recent visit vis was less than 2m and there was lots of fine silt lying all over the bottom. We are at a loss to explain why there is so much silt here now and why the water was so dirty. Conditions were so bad that I couldn’t find the huge Porites bommie that had been turned on its side during the cyclone so I’m unable to report whether this has survived! Hopefully I’ll have better news on coral survival and recovery when next we visit this island.
I have been amazed, both by the speed of recovery at some reef sites and by the slow recovery at others. So far I have not been able to figure out what is the major determinant of recovery time for badly damaged reefs where more than 90% of the corals have been destroyed.