02 May 2016

Cruise Whitsundays says that the Great Barrier Reef corals and aquatic life around its pontoons are in the best condition it has ever been, despite widespread reports of coral bleaching elsewhere in the Great Barrier Reef.

Chief Executive Officer Nick Hortle said like all tourism operators on the Great Barrier Reef he recognised that the company’s greatest single asset is the wonderful reef and its spectacular natural beauty.   

“Therefore we make every effort to protect it on a daily basis, and with a long term focus,” Mr Hortle said.

“While it is true that 93% of the reef has been affected by this bleaching event, what is missing in media reports is that the degree the reef is affected varies widely from insignificant to severe,” he said.

“The Whitsundays area of the reef (including Hardy Reef) has had very little in the way of bleaching - it is the northern section of the Great Barrier Reef that is currently experiencing a major coral bleaching event, and that area is approximately 1,590km from our pontoons,”

“In fact, people who have lived in the area for more than 20 years have observed that Hardy Reef is in the best condition they have ever seen,”

“Bleaching events are not new to the Reef – there have been three previous major, widespread bleaching events since records have been kept from 1970’s,”

“Studies of those bleaching events clearly demonstrates the Reef’s resilience with coral regrowth being more robust and able to better withstand the risk of future bleaching,”

“Coral cover in the Reef’s southern sector (between Bowen/Whitsundays and the Marine Park’s southern boundary) actually rose by 90 per cent between 2012 and 2015,”

“We encourage anyone who is considering returning, or visiting the reef for the first time, not to panic or be concerned that the reef is dead,”

“In the Whitsundays there has been very little damage, and certainly at our Reefworld pontoon at Hardy Reef the coral is very much alive and thriving.”