Reef in perfect order despite South East Queensland floods 12:27am, Fri 14 Jan 2011
With so much of South East Queensland recently affected by floods, our hearts go out to those caught up in the chaos and devastation created by one of nature's strongest acts. In typical Aussie fashion the stories have flowed faster than the flood waters of heroism, survival and regular people helping each other out.
As with other natural disasters in Australia's recent past the generosity of everyone will be shown through donations to the appeal to help those in need. While it won't return lost loved ones, or return irreplaceable items, every dollar counts in the cost of rebuilding houses, businesses and lives.
Meanwhile flood waters stream from Southern estieriries at the Southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. Sensationalist media have reported amongst the stories that the reef will be damaged by all the fresh water carrying sediment, debris and toxins. History has shown this to be not true.
The fine work of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has researched the effects of flood water plumes on the reef and found that while temporirily visibility can be affected and sediments can settle on coral, the reef is quick to recover. Floods are a naturally occurring and frequent event along the entire length of the Great Barrier Reef, where constant life renewal ensures restoration of the colour and underwater vista that it is famous more.
In the case of the Whitsunday Islands, we are 400 kilometres from the most serious outlet of flood waters from the 2011 event and the mouth of the Fitzroy river near Rockhampton. Additionally the Shoalwater penisula immediately to the north assists the drive offshore for any plume making its way up.
This all means that the Whitsundays islands, local reef and ecology will see no traces or ill effects from the flood waters. In the illustration, the research map confirms the possible area effected. For further information and research materials on the effect on the great Barrier Reef from flood water plumes you can find excellent materials here