define('WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE', 'minor');// This setting is required to make sure that WordPress updates can be properly managed in WordPress Toolkit. Remove this line if this WordPress website is not managed by WordPress Toolkit anymore. Trip Report 23rd June 2013

Trip Report 23rd June 2013

Finally, after almost a month of waiting, we were finally able to head out and have a look at our survey site to see what damage the storm from the west had caused. What we saw was heartbreaking to see.

So much coral was damaged and destroyed by the storm, almost the whole section of reef from the 2m contour till the 6m contour was scrubbed bare of both dead and living coral. All this coral was then swept up to the shallower portion of the reef, ending in a huge mountain of rubble, almost 20m wide and at least 1m high. This mountain of debris and rubble is so high, some portions of it stick out of the water at low tide.

Most of our 3m line has also gone, with one of the corner blocks we put down dragged almost 10m up the reef. To think that it took us a lot of effort to place those blocks into position, the power of the storm must have been enormous!

We could still see the debris from the shipwreck, which crashed outside the survey area in the 1-2m depth contour, close to the 100m section of our survey area. They managed to float the boat and send it back to Mersing for repairs, luckily.

The most shocking discovery though, was seeing that an almost car sized piece of coral had broken off from the large colony at the 60-70m mark, and rolled all the way down to the 8m mark, a full 10 to 20m downslope. To see such a large piece of coral had broken off must stand testament to the strength of the storm. An alternative explanation might be the boat hitting the coral and breaking it off, but from the looks of it, the boat grounded at least another 20m away from the impact site.

Most of what we surveyed before has changed dramatically, with numerous table corals overturned and dying, some larger than an actual dinner table. Shallower than 6m, almost all of the smaller corals have gone, leaving only sand and some clusters of larger corals.

We couldn’t manage to get too much done in terms of a survey of how much damage was done, but we are already planning a trip back to re-survey the entire site, and hopefully be able to have a permanent record of how much damage was done.

Here are more videos to document how much damage was really done.

And here’s a comparison shot from October 2012. Notice the difference!

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