Blog

Cyclone Ita: Part 4 – The scene that met them

By: Dr Anne Hoggett, Category: Science, Date: 16 Apr 2014

A blog series about our Lizard Island Research Station's recovery from the cyclone that hit it on Friday 11 April, 2014.

Cyclone Ita – the scene that met them #4

Lyle Vail © Australian Museum

**Update: The LIRS team has made a rapid survey of the reef surrounding the island. The northern and eastern sides seem to have been impacted more strongly than the others. They snorkelled briefly at several sites around the island. The visibility was very poor, only 2 to 3 metres.
- Reefs immediately in front of LIRS and life along the saltwater line – some damage but a reasonable amount of coral still intact
- Reef front near South Island – patchy damage
- Pidgin Point (between Coconut and Crystal Beaches) – lots of damage
- North Point (near Mermaid Cove) – lots of damage, reef flat completely scoured
This very sketchy picture is based on a short and broken sat phone call. Hopefully, we will have more detailed information soon.**

Wednesday 16 April, Cairns.

The team at Lizard Island is in good spirits, buoyed in no small part by the news that so many people are wishing them well.

They have sent photos taken soon after they arrived. I clearly misunderstood the initial sat phone communication. They didn’t have to wade through the lagoon at all – it was really low tide so it was an easy walk! The photos show many areas of minor building damage as expected, including broken glass louvres, at least one door ripped from its hinges, twisted fans, missing light fittings and broken wall sheets.

Normal services to the island will not be resuming any time soon. We hope to be able to accept booked visits from June onwards but that will depend upon making different access arrangements. We will be in touch with those concerned about that next week when we may have more information.

I am going to Sydney for at least the next few days and will be in contact as usual through the Australian Museum website and most of the usual email addresses. I am not able to access the email address that includes my name.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority is very keen to get a report about cyclone impacts on the reef and a boat will be heading up there soon for that purpose. The LIRS team has not yet been into the water. I will post again when we have some information about condition of the reefs.