Blog

Cyclone Nathan: Part 3

By: Steve Doo (PhD student University of Sydney) Cassy Thompson (LIRS staff), Category: Science, Date: 23 Mar 2015

The recovery begins.

Cyclone Nathan: Debris

Cyclone Nathan: Debris
Photographer: Steve Doo © Steve Doo

We are writing this blog from Lizard Island. Five of us (Steve Doo, Cassy Thompson, Bridie Allen, Matt Mitchell, Martin Lührmann) returned to Lizard Island late on Saturday to join Anne, Lyle and Alex who had arrived the previous day. Lyle and Alex had cleared the track to the airport earlier in the afternoon, and we returned very anxiously to the Station on the tractor.

We wrote earlier about some of the damage conveyed to us by Anne and Lyle, but seeing the Station first-hand was quite amazing. The amount of sand that was blown from the beach back towards the dive shed area was incredible, and was much more than Cyclone Ita last year. Two boats (Jacque and Sarah) were flipped over. The direction of the wind caused much of the sand on the beach to be blown back towards the labs, exposing a lot of beachrock that lies below the fine sediment on Casuarina Beach.

The assessment of damage done to the Station is ongoing, and we are still finding things that will require repair. The level of damage at LIRS is similar to that from Cyclone Ita, but in different ways. The phone and internet was not affected this time, making communication with the mainland much easier. And while tree damage was extensive, there were not as many trees to break this time around. Blown sand and small dings from flying branches caused much of the damage. Some of the houses had wet floors where water had blown in under the doors.

Steve managed to collect a few last measurements to round out his experiment. Matt and Bridie are continuing their fish behaviour experiments and are looking after the fish left behind by other researchers who are keen to get back soon too. Martin Lührmann, a PhD student at the University of Queensland, was five weeks into training fish to study their visual ecology before Cyclone Nathan caused our evacuation. Being able to return so quickly has allowed him to continue his training regiment without losing valuable data.

As the cleanup of the labs is still ongoing, we still have not been able to assess the damage on the reefs but hope that in the next few days we will be able to report on this.