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Cyclone Yasi severely damages reef


Aerial shot of the Great Barrier Reef.
Aerial shot of the Great Barrier Reef.

Jill Colton, staff writer

February 5, 2011 — Experts say it could take up to 10 years for the Great Barrier Reef to recover after it was hit by Cyclone Yasi.

Cyclone Yasi has caused significant damage.
Cyclone Yasi has caused significant damage.

Cyclone Yasi has severely impacted Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

Authorities say hundreds of kilometers of the reef hit by Cyclone Yasi will take up to 10 years to recover.

Coral reef has been washing up on nearby shores. It's still too early for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park divers to do a full assessment.

Five years ago, the reef was critically maimed by Cyclone Larry. Russell Reichelt, the authority's chief executive says all the progress that was made has been destroyed by Yasi.

“We can expect to see smashed coral beds, movement of coral boulders, sand and rubble moved around,” he explained. “If there's any sand islands there and importantly sea grass beds, when they get disturbed -- which they do by cyclones -- then animals like dugong get affected.”

Mr. Reichelt said that coral begins regenerating immediately, but it needs five to 10 years to be visibly restored.

“These kind of events (cyclones) change the shape of the reef for very long periods.”

With files from ABC News.

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