On the lowest tides of the year one can walk out to the inshore reef at Yule Point, just a little south of Port Douglas. The Alexandra Reef Complex is a collection of fringing reefs which extend over 8 km northward along the coast beginning at Yule Point. Once famous; some form of reef here dates back in probability to the Holocene high stand 6,000 years ago. The shoreline here is rocky; little changed since the beginning of the Holocene 16,500 years ago when sea levels were 120 metres below present levels and a coastal plain extended fifty or so kilometres beyond the present shoreline.
Hard corals here were rich and diverse; no more. It is now known for soft coral while only a few hard coral species struggle on. The water quality is too poor. Nutrients and sedimentation have combined to degrade this once fabulous reef; today it is barely a shadow of what it was even thirty years ago. The situation at Yule Point is identical to that of King Reef, just a couple of hundred kilometres south.
Corals here were extensively mined for lime as fertiliser for the cane industry back in the pre WW2 era. Subsequent to the war artificial fertiliser, Nitro-Phos became abundant and cheap, but as more land was given over to cane water quality became an issue that is still neglected. Some of that history can be read HERE