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Coal dust kills coral: study

The Brisbane Times reports (17.5.16) on research from marine scientists in north Queensland, pointing to the high risk posed to coral by coal dust and other spillage from coal shipping through the Great Barrier Reef.

‘A large coal spillage on the Great Barrier Reef would kill coral and stunt the growth of fish and seagrass, a new study suggests. Scientists say their research demonstrates the likely effects of a coal tanker accident on the World Heritage listed reef.

‘Researchers exposed a range of marine species to varying levels of coal dust, and found coral subjected to the highest concentrations died within two weeks.

‘Corals exposed to lower concentrations of coal lasted longer, but most of them also died after a month. Some fish and seagrass also died but the coal dust mostly stunted their growth by half compared to those in clean water.

‘There has never been a major coal spillage on the reef, but the grounding of the Chinese ship Shen Neng 1 off the central Queensland coast in 2010 highlighted the risks posed by mining-related shipping activities.’

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