Like many families, visiting the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia was high on our family’s bucket list. We hear so much about the bleaching of coral reefs that we decided this is an item we needed to tick off our list soon.
So we recently paid a visit to the largest coral reef in the world (the Reef stretches 2,300 km down the east coast of Australia). We learned you don’t have to be a scuba diver to enjoy this marine wonderland. Kids from toddlers to teenagers can find an age-appropriate way to explore the reef’s sea life.
Great Barrier Reef Tips
Where to Stay
There are a few key places where you can easily access the Reef.
Two countries, one extraordinary voyage Down Under.
Have too many places you’re dying to visit? Then it’s definitely a smart move to combine Australia and New Zealand in one trip. Not only is it a cost-savvy decision to explore more of the region in one holiday, you’ll be able to indulge in a wide variety of experiences across both countries!
Australia and New Zealand both offer spectacular coastlines, fascinating wildlife, iconic architecture and dynamic rich cultures. Each country is known for so many things: Australia for its rich aboriginal history in the Outback as well as its outstanding gourmet food and wine scene, or New Zealand for its Lord Of The Rings filming locations and its vibrant Maori culture that remains an integral part of Kiwi life.
The Great Barrier Reef is not “dead”, the leader of a new initiative to salvage the natural wonder has urged. Andy Ridley, the founder of Earth Hour and man behind a new campaign called Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef, has warned against speaking in such dire terms about the colourful coral world off the coast of Australia, claiming it remains “one of the healthiest [reefs] in the world”.
“[To say the Great Barrier Reef is dead] implies that we have given up on what is, to me, the most amazing natural icon on our planet and that is a red line we should not cross,” he said. “The state of the Great Barrier Reef is appalling but, in reference to its size, it’s still one of the healthiest in the world.”
Although the results of the meeting of the Reef 2050 advisory committee are in, government officials aren’t willing to make any changes to the Reef 2050 plan.
Back in 2015, the Queensland government released something called the Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan. They did it because the Unesco World Heritage Centre let them know that they were considering adding the Great Barrier Reef to the list of world heritage sites that were under severe threat. Now, though, in a meeting of the Reef 2050 advisory committee, at least two groups of experts said the battle to “ensure the Great Barrier Reef continues to improve on its outstanding universal values” has already been lost.
A scientific research expedition, funded by the tourism industry, to a remote part of the Great Barrier Reef will look for climate change-resistant coral in a bid to understand how coral can survive.
Great Barrier Reef Legacy (GBR Legacy), a nonprofit organisation, will launch the 21-day trip in November, inviting more than 10 scientists, including Australia’s Charlie Veron — known as the “godfather of coral”, on the research boat.
During the expedition, Veron — former chief scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science — will search for “super corals”, species that have the strongest capacity to cope with rising temperatures.
It’s the world’s biggest coral reef system, home to some 400 types of coral. In the past 18 months, rising ocean temperatures helped cause the single greatest loss of coral ever recorded there.
Nearly a hundred miles off the shore of Port Douglas, Australia, tourists jump into the water of the outer reef. On their dive, they see giant clams, sea turtles and a rainbow of tropical fish, all swimming above brightly colored coral.
On a boat, marine biologist Lorna Howlett quizzes the tourists in the sunshine. “How many people out there saw a coral highlighter-yellow?” she asks, eliciting a show of hands. “What about highlighter-blue? Yeah? Anyone see some hot pinks?”
Eager hands shoot up among the few dozen tourists lounging on the deck of the boat in their wetsuits.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) just released its ‘List of World Heritage in Danger’, and it has one notable omission. The Great Barrier Reef.
Australian experts have spoken out about the exclusion.
Dr Hugh Sweatman, Senior Research Scientist and Leader of the Long-term Monitoring Program for coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS)
Over the past 12 months hard coral cover on the Great Barrier Reef declined by about a quarter, bringing average reef-wide coral cover down to 18 per cent.These findings are based on surveys of 68 mainly mid- and outer-shelf reefs to March 2017, and do not yet include the impact of Tropical Cyclone Debbie or the further intense coral bleaching in 2017.
In general, the impacts of coral bleaching, cyclones and crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks differ along the 1,500 km length of the Reef.