Lets talk about the Great Barrier Reef Foundation? What does the Great Barrier Reef Foundation do? And what is happening to the ocean due to climate change? We take a look below and discuss some of the amazing work the Great Barrier Reef Foundation is doing to help save the precious underwater universe.
“Guardianship” to walk carefully on this earth, make each step count - if we could all understand that our calling on this earth is to protect and love it unconditionally”. Fran Grilk.
Just for a moment, see if you can picture another universe. An upside down one, Filled with water. Where, instead of trees giving life, there are thousands (2,900 to be exact) of living and breathing, multi-coloured animals swaying in the current of the deep blue surroundings, giving life and shelter to all. And it is busy, really busy like central Sydney on a Friday afternoon. Only there are no rules here, everyone is going in a different direction with a different job to do. And there are all the colours of life, a multitude of multi coloured organisms, the like of which you have never seen before gliding through their underwater paradise. Home to 10 percent of the worlds species of fish, 215 species of birds, 133 species of sharks and stingrays, 30 species of whales and dolphins, 14 species of sea snakes and 6 out of 7 of the worlds species of marine turtle. A special place. It’s hard not to fall in love with this underwater world that these creatures call home.
Yet, this world is not imaginary and not so far away. It is so large you can see it from space. And it is one of our “world’s greatest natural treasures” (Sir David Attenborough ).
And it’s also under great threat. It’s taken a battering because of global warming (without the ocean and all its’ many creatures, the earth would be so hot it would actually be inhabitable). It’s a fragile ecosystem, where temperature change, fluctuation in acidity levels and storms can mean death. The shocking reality is that human influences have contributed to 50% of the corals’ habitat being destroyed. The extreme rise in sea temperatures have over the last few years seen unprecedented back to back coral bleaching, the largest die-off corals since records began. And it will continue to be destroyed if we don’t do something about it…
Fortunately, recent research has shown that it can recover and we can help to save it, to preserve it for future generations, before it’s too late. And we must. How we live our lives, what we consume, shop collection , and supporting charities such as the Great Barrier Reef Foundation can make a real difference.
But what exactly are the Great Barrier Reef foundation up to at the moment (I hear you say)? Here’s five projects I would love to share with you.
- Understanding how exactly how the reef responds to climate change is crucial in finding ways to protect it. Some parts of the reef might respond better than others. For example, seagrass meadows (the turtles and dugong’s feeding grounds) can sometimes take advantage of higher CO2 levels as fuel for more photosynthesis and grow where other species of seagrass cannot. Research is currently being undertaken by the Foundation to find out why this is, and could provide ways to help the seagrass to survive.
- Restoration. The Great Barrier Reef are working to protect and restore the delicate ecosystems that make the habitat of millions of living organisms. They are supporting projects such as the The Raine Island Recovery Project. They are working to restore the islands’ turtle nesting habitat in a number of ways. Beach reprofiling (building up the sandbanks to you and me) has been successful in providing places to nest for the mummy turtles. They are helping to protect the storms too, by installing cliff-top fencing. This is helping to reduce the mortality of nesting female turtles. The project also rescues stranded and overturned nesting female turtles and is monitoring species living on the island and undertaking research to help increase the populations of them.
3. Coral spawning. Every year the healthy coral eproduce. A phenomenon which resembles an underwater snow storm. Scientists have begun to collect some of this spawn and raise it in the lab, where it is protected from the changing environment and safe from storms. When it is strong they reindrocuce it to The Great Barrier Reef, so far, with much success. Read more about this process here www.barrierreef.org .
4. Understanding how the reef is reacting to the changing climate. Corals in the Red Sea withstand rising temps so why cannot those on the Great Barrier Reef? A huge project is underway to sequence the genomes of coral. The aim is to fast track answers to critical questions such as: are corals able to adapt to changing environments; how quickly can they adapt; and what can be done to help them adapt?
5. Sunscreen for the reef? What if there was a way to stop heat and light before it enters the water and adversely affects the Reef? Scientists are testing biodegradable surface films, just one molecule thick, as a way to control the amount of light entering the water they’re applied to. In theory, this represents an innovative solution to combat coral bleaching at a local scale and this project is exploring the feasibility of this solution.
Please lets carry on this conversation… comment below I would love to hear about more research currently underway or any personal stories from the reef…