4 reasons you should not be put off visiting the Great Barrier Reef

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reasons you should not be put off visiting the Great Barrier Reef

Following the news that parts of the Great Barrier Reef have experienced the worst coral bleaching on record there is concern that some superyachts might be put off visiting the region. However, Superyacht Australia is keen to stress that bleaching is caused by prolonged exposure to heat stress, as the result of global warming and El Niño, rather than the presence of superyachts.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) confirmed to Superyacht Australia at the recent ASMEX conference (May 17/18) that, “superyachts cruising the Great Barrier Reef are not in any way causing coral bleaching”.

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reasons you should not be put off visiting the Great Barrier Reef

The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) has tried to reassure visitors that the damage has been limited to specific areas of the reef.

GBRMPA chairman Dr Russell Reichelt has been working with AIMS, the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and other partners since the beginning of March to conduct underwater studies to determine the extent of damage to the reef.

“Collaborative efforts by a large number of institutions and tourism industry volunteers allow us to say with confidence that while bleaching caused by heat stress affected most of the Reef, the most severe mass bleaching and the greatest mortality has been restricted to north of Port Douglas,” Dr Reichelt said.

“The most severe bleaching has occurred at the far northern reaches of the Great Barrier Reef, well away from the major superyacht destinations and population centres,” added a spokesman for Superyacht Australia.

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reasons you should not be put off visiting the Great Barrier Reef

As most of the damage has been confined to the northern region, tourism operators have reiterated that the Great Barrier Reef should still be considered to be one of the world’s premier diving destinations.

Superyacht Australia CEO MaryAnne Edwards said: “The southern regions of the Great Barrier Reef have experienced minimal impact from this natural event. We strongly encourage all visiting yachts to come and experience our beautiful cruising grounds along the Great Barrier Reef. The marinas in this region will go above and beyond to ensure visiting superyachts have the best experience possible”.

Jo Howard, director of Ocean Alliance, added that a luxury yacht charter in Australia would still offer an unforgettable experience.

"The Great Barrier Reef continues to be one of the natural wonders of the world, with hundreds of islands and coral reefs to explore and unique marine life to experience," he added. “Charter clients should not be concerned by the recent misinterpretation of the extent of the coral bleaching. The Great Barrier Reef still offers an incredible charter experience with many areas untouched by the bleaching event.”

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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reasons you should not be put off visiting the Great Barrier Reef

The tourism organisations have reiterated that sustainable and well monitored tourism can help to protect the Great Barrier Reef’s future.

“The tourism industry is a proactive custodian of the Reef and operators work to protect it by employing marine biologists to monitor the Reef and educate visitors about it, participating in programs such as crown-of-thorns starfish eradication and actively minimising their carbon footprint,” said a statement from Tourism Tropical North Queensland.

Tourist dollars also help to protect the Great Barrier Reef with any visitor who visits with a commercial operator contributing $6 a day to the GBRMPA, which is used for reef sustainability.

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