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Report Card 2015—Inshore marine condition 2014–15

It will take time for marine condition to show improvements as there are significant time lags between implementation of land management practices and measurable outcomes in these natural systems.

Inshore marine condition is also strongly influenced by severe weather events, such as tropical cyclones and floods, which have impacted all regions in recent years.

Confidence in the marine results for Cape York and the Burnett Mary remains low due to limited data availability and validation. Consequently, data from these regions is not used in the Great Barrier Reef-wide assessment.

This section focusses mainly on the inshore area of the Great Barrier Reef. Water quality at mid and outer shelf sites is generally good to very good overall because it is less directly influenced by river discharge.


A standardised scoring system was developed for each key indicator in the report card. The scoring system is used to assess and communicate progress towards the targets using the following categories.

Results—colour coding
A - Very goodB - GoodC - Moderate
D - PoorE - Very poorNo data available

Marine trend since 2013-14:

Improvement in score

Decline in score

No change in score

Indicator confidence is based on expert opinion and direct measures of error.

Further details on the scoring system (PDF, 567K) and qualitative confidence rankings for each indicator are outlined in the supporting technical information.

Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef marine condition 2014–15 data file (CSV, 138 )

Cape York

Cape York marine condition 2014–15 data file (CSV, 139 )

Wet Tropics

Wet Tropics marine condition 2014–15 data file (CSV, 127 )


Burdekin marine condition 2014–15 data file (CSV, 132 )

Mackay Whitsunday

Mackay Whitsunday marine condition 2014–15 data file (CSV, 141 )


Fitzroy marine condition 2014–15 data file (CSV, 124 )

Burnett Mary

Burnett Mary marine condition 2014–15 data file (CSV, 142 )

Read the detailed Marine results (PDF, 4.4M).

Marine context

The 2014–15 year was relatively free of severe weather events except. However, Tropical Cyclone Marcia which crossed the coast north of Rockhampton in late February 2015 and Tropical Cyclone Nathan made landfall near Cape Flattery in Cape York in March 2015. Annual rainfall was below average to very much below average resulting in reduced river discharge.

The Burdekin and Mackay Whitsunday regions had significantly lower than average flows.

Monitored river flows in 2014–15 data file (CSV, 348 )

Great Barrier Reef trends in coral cover change and seagrass abundance data file (CSV, 496 )

The overall condition of the inshore marine environment remained poor in 2014–2015. Inshore seagrass showed signs of recovery at locations that were relatively free from disturbances in recent years, but remained in poor condition overall. Inshore coral reefs have continued to improve since 2011–12 and are now in moderate condition overall.

The long-term trends in key coral and seagrass resilience indicators show these indicators are starting to recover from the cumulative impacts of multiple disturbances in recent years.

Coral bleaching 2015–16

The Great Barrier Reef experienced the worst mass coral bleaching event on record in the summer of 2015-16. Bleaching occurs when live corals are stressed, in this case from overheating. Surveys to assess the extent and severity of coral bleaching show the majority of coral mortality occurred in the 600 kilometre stretch between the tip of Cape York and just north of Lizard Island, near Cooktown. Dive teams will head back out later in 2016 to assess recovery rates of live bleached corals. The impact of the bleaching event will be evident in the next report card and further information is available at Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority–Coral bleaching.

Last updated:
20 October 2016

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