LIRRF Autumn 2021 Update
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Dear <<Dear>>
Every summer, it now seems, is a nail-biting one for the health of our coral reefs.  And so it was this summer at Lizard Island.  Over a period of about 25 days from 21st December water temperatures were consistently above 29.5 degrees, dangerous temperatures for corals.  By early January, corals were showing signs of bleaching, the earliest observed there in any year, and the fourth bleaching event in the past six years.

Fortunately, nearby cyclones influenced local weather patterns by cooling and shading waters and mortalities were not as widespread as initially feared.  In an enlightening if not alarming post below, LIRS co-director Dr Anne Hoggett shares her observations about this summer’s bleaching at Lizard Island. 

The easing of interstate travel restrictions has enabled more researchers to access the Station. Research projects supported over summer months have included ongoing research into effects of microplastics, parasites of reef fishes, coral spawning, a coral shading project and further work into testing new methods for the early detection of Crown-of-thorns starfish.  Station usage is still not at full capacity and we eagerly await the return of international researchers, a body that traditionally makes up about a third of all visiting researchers.  

In the coming month work gets underway to upgrade the Station’s solar power infrastructure, a significant project that will see the Station source up to 95% of its power needs from solar.    

After sixteen years as a dedicated Trustee, including six as a most capable and effective Chair, David Shannon has stepped down from our Board.  David’s dedication and contribution to the work of the Foundation has been immense and we extend a heartfelt thank you to David, and to the support of his wife Daniela.  They remain Life Members and, when time allows, David has indicated his willingness to continue to write and edit science stories for our supporters. 

With travel within Australia the norm for now, we’d like to remind our LIRRF members (those who donate more than $1000 in the last 12 months) that they qualify for a 20% discount on a stay of 3 or more nights at the luxurious Lizard Island Resort.  We thank Delaware North, the Resort’s operator, for this generous discount and please contact us for more details.

We hope you enjoy the below posts.  With the frequency and intensity of coral bleaching set to continue, it’s critical we reduce greenhouse gas emissions as warming waters and changing ocean chemistry are fast changing our reef ecosystems.  There is an urgency to better understand and, as best we can, conserve what we have.  To that end, the research undertaken by scientists at the Station has never been more important.  On behalf of my Fellow Trustees, I thank all our donors for enabling these important projects to continue. 

Best wishes,

Kate Hayward
Chair - LIRRF
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2021 Coral Bleaching at Lizard Island – Dr Anne Hoggett
More than 20 years ago, it was predicted that coral bleaching would become an annual event globally by 2050 and that it would happen even earlier on the Great Barrier Reef. That prediction shows every sign of being fulfilled.


Rise of the Turfs: Unlocking the secrets of our Changing Reefs
In marine ecosystems, one of the most striking impacts of climate change is the tropicalisation of temperate reefs, where warm-water species such as tropical fish and reef-building coral shift poleward to waters typically considered temperate, and cool-water species like kelp recede, leading to the emergence of turf-dominated, economically less-desirable systems.


Testing new methods to study Crown-of-Thorns Starfish (CoTs) Populations
Crown-of-thorns starfish (CoTS) are common coral-eating starfish which grow up to 80 cm across, eat 10 square metres of coral a year and can produce up to 50 million eggs a year


Microplastics ingestion by larval fish
The impact of plastic in our oceans is a growing threat to the marine ecosystem and a new study conducted at LIRS is helping to understand the magnitude of the problem associated with microplastics – those plastics that are <5mm..


Coral Reef Degradation: Testing the Resilience of Fish Communities
Coral reefs are in global decline through the combined effects of climate change and anthropogenic stressors.  This has resulted in a decrease in coral cover, shifts in coral composition and the spatial arrangement of coral habitats.


A Tale of Two Ichthyophiles: Simon & Chris’ Story
For Dr Simon Brandl and Dr Christopher Goatley, success and frustration came hand in hand. Joint recipients of the 2020 John and Laurine Proud Fellowship, neither could visit the Lizard Island Research Station to resume their work. COVID has taken its toll on the station’s vibrant international community, and now more than 12 months on, it still runs at less than half its usual capacity.


Why Donate to support science at the Australian Museum’s Lizard Island Research Station?

  • Because the Great Barrier Reef is hugely important;
  • the science advances knowledge of life and informs reef conservation;
  • the Station is one of the world’s best reef research facilities and advances marine science careers;
  • the science depends on continuing donor support;
  • LIRRF provides a super-efficient funding channel where you will see your funds being put to good use;
  • and because we have a sense of wonder.
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Our mailing address is:
Lizard Island Reef Research Foundation
Australian Museum
1 William Street
Sydney, NSW 2010

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