The extent of previously unknown coral communities in the Burnett-Mary Region (Southeast Queensland)
The Burnett Mary region is located along the southern Queensland coast and supports a broad range of benthic reef communities. This region is positioned within a biogeographical overlap zone, containing a unique assemblage of tropical, subtropical and possibly temperate species near their latitudinal limits. These marine communities are subject to a range of natural and anthropogenic disturbances occurring at a variety of temporal and spatial scales. The aim of this study is to assess the extent of benthic communities in the region as a baseline against which future changes can be monitored. The photo transect and remote sensing technique employed to survey these benthic communities occurred during 2008/2009. Soft corals were the dominant benthos with Lobophyton spp the most numerous. Scleractinean corals were represented by Acropora spp. and Pocillopora damicornis, a moderate to low cover of Goniopora spp., Montipora spp. and Turbinaria spp. were also recorded at most of the survey sites. The long-term monitoring of these benthic communities is essential to improve our understanding of the temporal variations occurring within this region and on broader spatial scales, as well as to assess the effects of natural and anthropogenic disturbances. This information can in turn, be used to develop more effective management strategies that will attempt to mitigate long-term damage to these benthic reef communities.