Michaelmas Reef second flank

Surveyed 18 December 2016.

The second flank of Michaelmas Reef is sheltered from the prevailing wind and sea conditions found within the lagoon of the Great Barrier Reef. Manta tow surveys were conducted on the reef slope. The reef slope is generally broken dropping off to a gently sloping reef base composed mainly of sand. The reef structure has few features including bommies.

The benthic community was dominated by soft coral, but hard coral and coralline/turf algae were also common. Hard coral cover on the reef second flank was moderate composed mainly of Porites species. The dominant coral lifeform was massive, but other forms such as branching, sub-massive and tabulate corals were also present in decreasing order of abundance. Coral bleaching was not present.

The fish abundance on the second flank of Michaelmas Reef was low. Conspicuous groups of reef fishes included parrotfish and surgeonfish. No crown-of-thorns starfish were observed on the second flank of Michaelmas Reef . White syndromes (such as white band disease or shutdown reaction) were present on hard corals.

Changes in zone-wide live coral cover through time. Points indicate median coral cover in a given survey year. Solid line indicates a moving average taken over three (preceding, actual and following) survey years.

Soft corals were particularly abundant on this part of the reef.
View looking up the reef slope in the afternoon light showing hard and soft corals with a giant clam in the foreground.
Sinularia sp. and Sarcophyton sp. made up the majority of soft corals on this part of the reef.