This project will conduct a biodiversity assessment of coral communities on Torres Strait reefs to establish a baseline
of coral condition and start a longer-term monitoring program of selected coral reefs in the region. The monitoring will
look for changes in the condition of coral reefs and document factors that might contribute to changes incl COTS, disease,
bleaching, temperature anomalies etc. As part of this project, an early warning system will be established for coral bleaching.
This will give the Torres Strait Regional Authority (TSRA), Torres Strait communities, industry and other stakeholders,
the ability to predict, prepare for and respond to coral bleaching.
This project will:
1. Consult with TSRA and community to design a monitoring program for reefs of Torres Strait that addresses community needs
and involves training TSRA LSMU rangers in field activities so that they can continue the reef monitoring program once this
project is completed. During the project a biodiversity survey will be completed along with a baseline monitoring survey
(Feb 2013) and a repeat monitoring survey (Feb-March 2014).
2. Establish an early warning system for coral bleaching based on the best-available knowledge of bleaching thresholds and
a real-time environmental observing system for key parameters, including temperature and light. One real-time observing
station will be located in the western Torres Strait and a second for the eastern TS subject to sufficent funds being available.
3. Establish a network of non real-time temperature loggers at up to 15 sites (two loggers/sites at different depths)
at sites representative of the Torres Strait to capture the range of thermal regimes in the Torres Strait. LSMU rangers
will be trained to exchange loggers on a 6-12 monthly basis (depending on site accessibility).
4. Provide regular updates on current coral reef conditions and summer forecasts for bleaching risk. These updates are a
compilation of all available satellite and in-situ data together with forecasts from POAMA and NOAA bleaching risk models
and will be provided to key stakeholders.