Almost nobody knows about the remarkable coral reefs right at the mouth of the Brisbane River, which are presently under the muddy plume of the Brisbane River flood. Those reefs are not “protected” by the harsh reef regulations that apply to almost all other corals on the Queensland coast. This is huge government hypocrisy.
The closest reef is only 4 km from the Brisbane port, Australia’s third biggest city, and the mouth of one of Queensland’s largest rivers. Most of the sewage from a million people ends up in Moreton Bay.
But those reefs are fine despite being subject to far higher pollution pressure than any others in Queensland. They are a living laboratory that tells us that farmers cannot be affecting the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) which, unlike the Moreton Bay reefs is a very long way from the coast – roughly 30 to 100 km. And let us not forget that measurements of farm pesticides taken on the GBR routinely find nothing – the concentrations are so low they cannot be detected with the most sensitive scientific equipment.
Who knows what you would find on the Moreton Bay reefs today in the flood plume– but the water is never as pristine and sparkling like it is on the GBR which is well flushed by the currents from the Pacific Ocean.
If the government, advised by their exaggerating scientists, were consistent, they would ban the use of fertilizer and pesticides on all Brisbane gardens, or at least force gardeners to register how much they are using and allow a government official to check their garden shed each year. They would cut down the use of toilets as sewerage is very polluting – sorry Brisbanites. That fertilizer could be growing algae in the reefs. And regulate reduced use of cars as rubber dust wearing from tyres on the road is washed into the creeks and COULD damage the Moreton Bay reefs.
In fact, why not do the job properly and have a plan to phase out Brisbane altogether over the next few decades. People can go somewhere else, I’m sure.
And all that would achieve almost nothing in the same way that reef regulations do almost nothing useful except allowing people in the SE corner to feel good about “protecting” the GBR.
The reefs of Moreton Bay are fine, although we can expect some coral mortality mostly due to corals not liking freshwater from the flood – even very clean freshwater. But they will recover, just like the GBR recovers from cyclones, bleaching and starfish plagues.
And to finish off this post, let us not forget that big floods have always occurred in Brisbane. Jennifer Marohasy has done a great post on her blog (here) about the frequency of floods. If you wonder about whether extreme events are getting worse – click on that link.
Notes: In Moreton Bay, coral grows around King, Green, St Helena, Mud, Peel, Goat, Coochiemudlo and Macleay islands.
Picture: ABC, Moreton Bay Coral Discovery Mapped Out By Scientists Seeking Better Protection For Reef, here.
This is slightly edited version of a post that first appeared on Peter Ridd’s Facebook page, here.