Current conditions on the Reef

Each summer, we assess the health of reefs, as this part of the year poses a greater risk of extreme weather, particularly heat waves, cyclones and flooding.

Stressful conditions can lead to coral disease outbreaks, while poor water quality may make coral more susceptible to bleaching and lead to greater numbers of coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish.

It’s important we have accurate, real time information on Reef conditions. Members of the public can report observations of coral bleaching, disease, predation or damage through the Eye on the Reef program.

Everyone can help support the Reef’s health and resilience by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, following responsible reef practices, including abiding by Marine Park zoning rules, not anchoring close to corals and responsibly disposing of litter.

Update 4: 24 March 2017

Overview of environmental conditions

Heat stress is affecting the Great Barrier Reef this season. Current daily sea surface temperature anomalies generally range from 0.5oC to over 3oC higher than long-term monthly averages within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Rainfall to-date is below average for the northern wet season throughout most of the catchment. Trade wind and cloud cover values have been average.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s March to May outlook shows a hotter than average autumn is likely for the Great Barrier Reef. The chances of a wetter or drier season for the Great Barrier Reef catchment are roughly equal.

Predictions are also for above average sea surface temperatures, and an average number of cyclones. The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) remains neutral; however recent changes in both the topical Pacific Ocean and atmosphere mean there is now an El Niño watch, with a 50 per cent likelihood of an El Niño forming during 2017.

Our table of observations and forecasts provides more detailed information.

Reef health monitoring is ramped up over this time to keep an eye on the marine environment.

Overview of coral reef health reports

On 10 March 2017, the agency confirmed mass bleaching is underway again on the Reef.

The unprecedented heat stress experienced last summer, along with a warmer than average winter in 2016, means that corals have been under continued stress and are therefore more susceptible to bleaching and disease.

Reports of coral bleaching and high incidences of coral disease have continued to come in through various networks. Recent information indicates that the bleaching is widespread throughout the Marine Park, and that in some areas the severity of this bleaching is high.

The situation is being monitored closely. For the most up-to-date information, please visit our coral bleaching webpage.

Want to help us keep an eye on the Great Barrier Reef?

Find out more about how you can get involved in our monitoring programs.

Latest detailed observed forecast and environmental conditions

Detailed information on sea surface temperature, tropical cyclones, rainfall levels and flood plumes to date.

Read more on Latest detailed observed forecast and environmental conditions

Eye on the Reef program

Eye on the Reef is a monitoring program that enables anyone who visits the Reef to contribute to its long-term protection.

Read more on Eye on the Reef program