Reef guides ready for tourists’ return
Column contributed by Brent Chatterton
30 YEARS ago I dived Bait Reef on the Great Barrier Reef for the very first time.
I was awestruck in seeing the wonderful diversity of marine life in the Whitsundays from seeing the smallest animal, the coral polyp, to the reef’s largest visitor, the majestic humpback whale and all of the rich biodiversity living in its World Heritage listed waters.
I knew right then where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do, to take people out to the reef and make their visit just as unforgettable and memorable as my first experience.
I want to take time to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of all the people who have contributed to the ongoing protection of our reef waters, namely Tony Fontes.
Tony founded O.U.C.H (Order of Underwater Coral Heroes) and its work has been instrumental in influencing the protection of the reef in our local waters.
O.U.C.H. instigated the reef protection markers as we know it and moorings to protect from anchor damage as just some of its many achievements.
Alongside (him is) Jackie Shields with her decades-long work monitoring and protecting our seagrass beds, the food source of dugongs and some turtles, which is a crucial indicator for a healthy reef.
As we transition out of these difficult times for the tourism sector, 63 highly trained master reef guides will be ready to take up the baton from the amazing groundwork these volunteers have built up.
We are all enthusiastic and motivated to get back out on the reef and reconnect our local community and tourists from all over the world to the reef I fell in love with all those years ago.
So, what do you do to help the reef ?
- Slow down for those below
- Implement responsible reef practices while you’re out on the water
- Download the ‘eye on the reef’ app so each one of us can help GBRMPA and its researchers by simply logging in sightings of significant marine animals, or find an organisation to volunteer your time to help protect the reef.