Master guide on board
SHARING the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef to the world is no easy feat.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, along with an association of marine park tourism operators and Tourism and Events Queensland, aims to bring a deeper understanding of reef management and protection with its Master Reef Guide Program.
Of the 50 nominations GBRMPA received, just 13 people were selected to undertake the course.
Crystal Lacey, from Cruise Whitsundays, and Terry Kemp, from Cumberland Charter Yachts, are the only two Master Reef Guides in the Whitsunday Region.
The guides have been trained as local advocates and storytellers, to better inform and educate the public about the reef.
"It's about inspiring people from all over the world about how amazing the Great Barrier Reef is, and sending a message out there, that there is still a beautiful reef," Miss Lacey said.
Her love affair with the ocean began as a girl, after she saw the reef for the first time on a family cruise.
"It just clicked for me, I just thought, 'there's a whole new world here'," she said.
"The reef is not dead, and it can be hard in tourism. You only get to take people to a tiny small snapshot of it.
"It's 2300km long, it's massive; it's the size of Japan
Miss Lacey's fervour for the reef is intoxicating, and she puts the vastness into perspective as she describes marine life potentially having only one encounter with a human in their entire lives.
"You've also got the other side of the coin, when people travel to the reef and this is their one and only chance to experience it," she said.
"They could be petrified, and you take them to see the natural wonder of the world and pull them through their fear - it can change someone's life," she said.
Miss Lacey said obtaining her Master Reef Guide accreditation was one of her greatest achievements.
"It's extremely personal to me," she said.