Coral reef smashed by cyclone

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A coral reef off the West Australia coast has suffered severe damage in a cyclone.

Scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science said that Scott Reef, which lies in the Indian Ocean, had suffered spectacular damage as Cyclone Fay ripped through it.

Luke Smith of the Institute told Terradaily.com: "The degree of destruction observed at Scott Reef is extremely rare, at most a one-in-100-year event.

"Many of the corals that survived the cyclone were severely damaged, their branches removed leaving only their bases.

"Even colonies down to 20 meters (66 feet) were damaged and buried under rubble."

Scientists found the damage when they were returning to the reef to monitor the improvement in the health of the corals after a massive bleaching episode killed many of them in 1998. Around 80% of the corals were lost.

Luke Smith told Terradaily.com: "Scientists had initially planned to further document reproduction and recruitment in corals, describe patterns of surface water currents, and to exchange temperature and tide loggers on their trip to Scott Reef, but were faced with the shocking aftermath of mother nature at its wildest".