5th April 2017
Fluorescent coral, crown of thorn starfish and other intricate parts of a reef ecosystem sprang up overnight at Brisbane’s Southbank as part of the World Science Festival. The event, hosted by Reef Alive and researchers from the Queensland University of Technology, aimed to fight the threat that the Great Barrier Reef is currently experiencing by encouraging members of the public to get up close and personal with marine life and become a scientist for a day.
As one of the natural wonders of the world, it’s important that we continue to explore ways to keep the Great Barrier Reef at its healthiest to ensure future generations continue to enjoy it. Showing imagery of the reef at various stages of health, the display also included a ‘think tank’ teeming with marine life and a touch tank that allowed people to get close to the coral.
Creating a realistic reef environment, earth and marine scientist Brett Lewis said it was important for people to feel connected to their environment in a personal way. "When people empathise with things, they tend to have a better ability to make change," he said. Lewis believes that is people can understand and empathise with the threats the Great Barrier Reef is facing, they will be able to make better decisions in the future, including when it comes to voting.
Currently, the coral and marine life are being affected by the Great Barrier Reef weather. Rising water temperatures cause the coral stress which results in coral bleaching. The bleaching is considered an imminent threat after two mass coral bleaching events occurred in the last two years. However research is being done to determine the effects of climate change on the reef and how the coral will respond. The research has shown that by limited the effects of climate change, we can limit damage to the reef.
Communications manager for the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, Louise Sturgess says that our best hope for change are the next generation of scientists. Partnering with The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation and QUT, the vital learning experience was presented as some underwater fun to encourage young minds to explore the issues of the reef and ultimately care about its wellbeing.