The coral reefs of Western Australia (WA) are morphologically diverse, with high levels of biodiversity and endemism. Carbonate forming reefs occur along 20o of latitude, and more than 1,500km of coastline, incorporating oceanic atolls in the north to fringing reefs that surround the Houtman Abrolhos Islands off the Midwest coast. Across this latitudinal gradient, coral reefs can be found along much of the mainland coast and continental islands, including extensive fringing reef at Ningaloo and Shark Bay, which are both World Heritage Areas. Marine reserves along the coast and offshore encompass coral reefs recognizing the important role they play in supporting biodiversity and providing ecosystem services. Within WA State waters, these reserves were created under the Conservation and Land Management Act 1984 (CALM Act) and are managed by the Western Australian Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA). Here I present data collected by the DBCA monitoring team and discuss temporal trends in coral cover within the states marine reserves, highlighting the impact of several warm water anomolies over the past 10 years.
Shaun Wilson is a Principal Research Scientist with the Marine Science Program, in Western Australia’s Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, where he conducts and facilitate research to inform management of WA’s marine parks and threatened species. This involves working closely with DBCA regional staff across that state and collaborating with scientists from both universities and research institutes. Shaun’s main research interests revolve around ecological research and monitoring of marine systems, particularly coral reefs. Much of this work is focused on how environmental disturbances and pressures influence marine systems, associated communities, processes, and ecosystem services.