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Long Recovery For Cyclone-Hit Reef

Scientists have warned that Australia's Great Barrier Reef will take decades to fully recover from the damage cause by last month's Cyclone Yasi. The planet's largest coral reef is a world heritage site and one of Australia's biggest tourist attractions, popular with swimmers, snorkellers and scuba divers. But the cyclone has caused severe damage to parts of the reef and experts estimate that while it heals, the local fishing industry as well as tourist arrivals will be hit. Following the storm, the Great Barrier Marine Park Authority carried out an assessment of its impact on corals and other marine organisms in the reef. Paul Marshall, a reef ecologists who led the survey of 36 reefs in a 300km segment along the some of the worst-hit coastal regions, said the devastation was so great in some parts "there was hardly a coral to be found left alive". He said: "Big piles of coral rubble and broken plates had been ripped off the reef and tossed about or dumped at the bottom of the reef in piles. That was pretty heart-wrenching to see."

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