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Queensland And Uber Launch scUber – “The World’s First Rideshare Submarine On The Great Barrier Reef”

Heron Island, Queensland, Australia – Queensland, Australia in partnership with Uber, today launched the world’s first rideshare submarine experience on the Great Barrier Reef.

Announcing  scUber, Tourism Industry Development Minister for Queensland, Kate Jones, said this new form of travel gives riders an unfiltered lens to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, a playground rich in marine life offering remarkable underwater experiences.

“How excited are we today to have a world first on the world’s largest and most beautiful reef,” said Kate Jones.

“We all know that you can see the Great Barrier Reef from space. But from today, you’ll be able to see the Great Barrier Reef from the world’s very first rideshare submarine.”

But it was Dr David Wachenfeld, Chief Scientist for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the first person to experience scUber, who captured the heart of curious bystanders when he described scUber as a cross between two Hollywood icons.

“We were hovering over the bottom looking down and … you get to see the big stuff and you get to see the little stuff. And, it really is bizarre … like a cross between Nemo and a Bond movie,” Chief Scientist, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority,  Dr David Wachenfield said.

Queensland and Uber have teamed up to deliver this exclusive experience, in a landmark partnership to showcase the reef.

Passengers will get 180-degree views of the underwater icon and taken to depths of up to 30 metres, without even needing a scuba mask.

The rideshare experience will be available at the touch of a button, costing AUD$3000 for two passengers.

“Having this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to access a submarine typically only available to the ultra-rich is a world changing experience,” said Uber Australia and NZ General Manager, Susan Anderson.

Riders can book the underwater adventure through the Uber app, which kicks off on Heron Island off the coast of Gladstone in Queensland on Monday, 27th May, 2019.

To celebrate the launch of scUber, Queensland and Uber are offering this exceptional bucket-list experience to one lucky winner and a friend from each of the following countries: USA, Canada, United Kingdom, France, New Zealand and Australia.

Uber will further be donating $100,000 to Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef to help support conservation initiatives on the Great Barrier Reef, and will match the equivalent value generated from every scUber ride taken.

The unique rideshare service starts on 27th May, and will move to Agincourt Reef, off the coast of Port Douglas in Tropical North Queensland until 18th June.

Heron Island is a small coral cay, based at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef,  that has captured the hearts of David Attenborough and Jacques Cousteau.

Greater than 69 million football fields in size, the Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef with an extraordinary range of habitats and species.  It has more than 600 different types of coral, 1625 species of fish and more than 1000
Islands, making it one of the most complex natural systems on earth.

 

Source: Tourism and Events Queensland

Location: Heron Island, Queensland, Australia

Unite For The Great Barrier Reef – A New Social Movement

NEW SOCIAL MOVEMENT CALLS GLOBAL CITIZENS TO UNITE FOR GREAT BARRIER REEF. 

ACTION – NOT APATHY – NOW NEEDED

•New social movement uses digital technology to mobilise support for the Great Barrier Reef.

•Sign up to citizensgbr.org to become a Citizen of the Great Barrier Reef and take simple actions that feed into a global dashboard that tracks the cumulative impact.

•The new movement launches today, midway through a split coral spawning season; a powerful reminder that the Great Barrier Reef is still alive and that action – not apathy – will secure its future.

•To show support, Citizens can claim a colour of the Great Barrier Reef, flooding their own social media feeds with vivid pops of colour.

November 28, 2017, Cairns QueenslandA new social movement launched in Cairns today aims to put vivid pops of colour into millions of social media feeds as a global network of people unite to support the Great Barrier Reef.

Spearheaded by Earth Hour founder, Andy Ridley, Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef uses digital technology to mobilise individuals to take simple actions that will track their impact on the Reef.

The actions, which range from saying no to straws to donating funds to the Crown of Thorns Starfish eradication program, collectively feed into a global dashboard that tracks the mass impact of each person’s choices.

Mr Ridley launched the movement today midway between a split coral spawning season, a powerful symbol of ongoing life on the Great Barrier Reef and a reminder that it’s action – not apathy – that will secure the reef’s future.

“We are in the middle of a split spawning, an event where the reef, the animals, the clams, and the coral, spawn and regenerate,” said Mr Ridley.

“We launched Citizens at exactly the same time, essentially trying to recreate and mimic nature and do a social spawning.”

Ridley added that Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef shows that an action on one side of the planet can make a difference for the whole planet.

“As an individual citizen, everything you do will make a difference,” Mr Ridley said.

“Whether it’s making a decision about never using one-use water bottles or take-away cups; even these small decisions when you scale them up to many, many millions, it starts to make a massive difference.

“There are already citizens on the reef working their guts out to try and make sure it’s protected and saved, but we need all of humanity to unite to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

“Whether you are in Rio, Amsterdam or Beijing, we need your help. We need you to become a Citizen and unite for the Great Barrier Reef.”

Sixty-five kilometres out to sea from Port Douglas, snorkelers on the Great Barrier Reef today agreed with the concept of Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef.

Ruth Ogier, 44-years old from London who joined the Diver’s Den trip said the reef is definitely worth protecting.

“Today was so clear, I could see so many different types of fish –  really brightly coloured – and lots of different corals. It was amazing.”

“I think it’s a great idea, making sure everyone feels globally connected to this space, and protecting it for the future.”

Meanwhile, 28-year old Chen Chen, from Shenzhen in China snorkelled the reef for her first time and saw “fabulous corals, in all different colours – purple, pink, yellow, blue.”

“I can’t describe my feelings; (it’s) the first time I see such beautiful nature. We must do everything we can do to protect (it) including use less plastic things, straws, and use more recyclable energy.

Nakita Russell, 24-years old from Fiji can’t wait to sign up for Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef.

“I think everybody should sign up for it. I don’t think it should be a second thought. I think it should be compulsory. And yes, I will be signing up to it. Right now.”

CEO of Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef, Mr Ridley said it’s easy to become a Citizen.

“You just go to the site citizensgbr.org, you sign up and then you start to choose the actions you are going to take.”

By signing up to citizengbr.org, individuals and organisations can claim their own colour of the reef and through social media networks encourage friends, families, supporters and clients to do the same.

Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef also supports reef management and conservation projects along the 2,300 kilometres stretch of Queensland’s coastline. These include tackling outbreaks of coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish, protecting endangered loggerhead turtle habitat and supporting graziers to decrease sediment runoff into Reef catchments.

Join the movement today by becoming a Citizen of the Great Barrier Reef at citizensgbr.org. 

Shows:

– Diver’s Den Great Barrier Reef Day Trip on Aquaquest

– First site: Beer Garden, 65km north east of Port Douglas

– Second site: Stonehenge, 65km north east of Port Douglas.

– Regrowth: Ribbon Reef middle between two preservation zones.

 

00:00     Aerials of AquaQuest reef vessel traveling 65km north east of Port Douglas

00:10     Aerial of snorkelers at Beer Garden Reef

00:15     Shots of Beer Garden Reef and swimmer

00:18     Anemones and clown fish

00:34     Anemones and clown fish with divers looking on

00:45     Andy Ridley, CEO Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef … “It’s really easy to become a citizen, you just go to the site citizensgbr.org, you sign up and then you start to choose the actions you are going  take.

00:54     “As an individual citizen, everything you do will make a difference, so whether or not it’s making a decision about never using one-use water bottles or take away cups. Even these small decisions when you scale them up to the many many millions, starts to make a massive difference.

01:10     “There are already citizens on the reef itself working their guts out to try and make sure it’s protected and saved, but we need all of humanity to unite to protect the Great Barrier Reef. So whether you are in Rio, Amsterdam or Beijing, we need your help. We need you to become a Citizen and unite for the Great Barrier Reef.

01:26     “Out there are the moment, we are in the middle of a split spawning, so ahh, this is where the reef, animals, clams, the coral itself spawn so it ahhh regenerates. Some people call it the greatest orgasm on the planet. So we try to do the launch of Citizens at exactly the same time essentially trying to recreate and mimic nature and do a social spawning.

01:46     Coral spawning at Moore Reef November 10, 2017

02:16     Divers and snorkelers entering the Great Barrier Reef at Beer Garden Reef

02:53     Interview with Takuma Sato, 36 years old from Chiba Ken, Japan ……(translation to English from Japanese) “It was beautiful, the coral and fish. Errrr. There was absolutely no rubbish at all. We must try and keep it as it is, just like this.”

03:13     Interview with Chen Chen, 28 years from Shenzhen, China.… “Actually, when I dive into the sea, I can see fabulous corals. Different colours; purple, pink, yellow, blue. All kinds of colours of corals and all kinds of fish.

03:26     “It’s really marvellous, fabulous. I can’t describe my feeling. The first time I see such beautiful nature things.

04:35     “We must do everything we can do to protect them including use less plastic things, straws, and use more recyclable energy, something like that.

04:47 Interview with Chen Chen, (translation to English from Chinese/Mandarin) “When I was diving I saw glorious corals of different colours that I’ve never imagined. Purple. Pink. And all sizes of fish just like we saw in the magazine and the TV. It was amazing. It’s hard to find a word to describe how I felt.

04:05     We should do more to protect them. For example, use less plastic bags and other plastic things including plastic straws and we should use recyclable energy. If we do more to protect the environment, more people can have the chance to see the miracle of the nature.

04:22     Ruth Ogier, 44 years old from London, UK…. “It’s definitely worth protecting. Today was so clear, I could just see many different types of fish really brightly coloured, lots of different corals. It was amazing. Really really good.

04:32     “I think it’s a great idea, in making sure everyone feels globally connected to this space, protecting it for the future.

04:39     Nakita Russell, 24 years old from Fiji …  “Today was amazing, to see it from – you can snorkel and you can snorkel, but when you are underneath the water, it’s completely different. You can’t even compare it. And I just saw everything.

04:51     “I think everybody should sign up for it. I don’t think it should be a second thought. I think it should be compulsory. And yes, I will be signing up to it. Right now.

05:00     Shots of Beer Garden Reef 65 km north east of Port Douglas

05:11     Shot of Stonehenge Reef snorkelers and divers, 65km north east of Port Douglas

05:57 Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef promo video with Teresa Palmer

ENDS 06:52

Other:

About the Great Barrier Reef:

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s biggest coral reef system and the largest living thing on Earth, stretching 2,300 kilometres from the tip of the Cape York Peninsula to Bundaberg. It is Queensland’s most valuable tourism asset with around two million visitors experiencing the reef each year. As a custodian of the Reef, Queensland’s tourism industry is committed to responsible practices, as well as actively participating in programs to protect Reef health and build resilience. Anyone who visits the Reef with a commercial operator contributes an Environmental Management Charge of $6.50 per day to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, which is vital in supporting day-to-day management of the marine park. More information: queensland.com/greatbarrierreef

About Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef:

Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef is a social movement with a difference. A digitally-focused organisation for the 21st century, it is a collaborative global movement driven by technology with one aim: to engage mainstream society on a mass scale and to mobilise a global network of Citizens committed to taking real action for the Reef.

By starting conversations, and connecting local and global issues, Citizens will engage people, innovators and organisations from around the world in the future of the Reef. Liking Citizens on Facebook is not enough. Individuals are asked to take local and global actions with measurable outcomes. Citizens is the ultimate sharing platform designed to showcase the most innovative, inspiring and impactful actions and get involved. Backed by the world’s best reef management agency, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), the movement is also supported by more than 340 tourism operators who bring thousands of people daily to experience the Reef.

On A Fin & A Prayer, Shark Tale Testament To True Miracle Of Mother Nature

TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA – Cleo is no ordinary leopard shark, in fact she’s a shark that defies what most people know about the laws of nature.

She was born at Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium in Townsville, home to the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium and the national education centre for the Great Barrier Reef. Cleo’s Mum is a leopard shark called Leonie, and here’s the surprise of biblical proportions; Cleo doesn’t have a father.

“Here at Reef HQ we’re so excited about it. It raises a lot of questions. Does this happen in the wild? Does it happen more often than we realize?” asks Hamish Tristram, Senior Aquarist, Reef HQ.

Laura Coulton, Reef HQ Aquarist, who’s known as the mother of sharks says “It is a very unique occurrence and it’s particularly interesting with the case we have here, because we’ve got a female which we know has been able to reproduce using normal sexual reproduction and now something’s changed and she’s been able to switch to this completely different method.”

Cleo was born from a process called facultative parthenogenesis, otherwise known as a virgin birth.

Far from being able to walk on water, Cleo will only ever swim in it, and while her amazing arrival can be explained by science, the fatherless shark pup and her siblings are causing a stir in the marine research world.

“The interesting bit of research that we want to find out in the future is whether the offspring are reproductively viable as well. So we’re certainly going to be keeping the first of our pups, Cleo, here at Reef HQ just to see and explore a little further her ability to produce viable offspring,” says Fred Nucifora, Director, Reef HQ.

As if this story wasn’t incredible enough, it seems leopard shark Mum Leonie may soon become a grandmother, without having a son in law. Her eight-year-old daughter Lolly, who does have a Dad, has also started producing eggs on her own, leading scientists to question genetics.

“Within the last year (Lolly) has been laying eggs and there’s signs of little embryos developing. Now she’s never been housed with a male so there’s every chance she’s decided to follow in Mum’s footsteps – or Mum’s tail swish – and has decided to produce offspring through parthenogenesis as well,” says Laura.

Leopard sharks are prized for their distinctive colouring, so breeding programs like the one at Reef HQ are vital to prevent them being caught in the wild.

In 2013 the experts at Reef HQ decided to separate the male and female leopard sharks to ensure there was no more hanky panky in the fish tank!

After a year of childfree bliss, Leonie however had other ideas and much to the surprise of everyone at Reef HQ produced Cleo who is only four months old and 50cm. But Leonie wasn’t finished, Cleo was followed by Gemini and CC, a cute 28cm at birth. Her carers believe there may just be another baby on the way.

Like all children, Cleo and CC have very different personalities according to Aquarist Laura, “Cleo is….the more laidback of the two, (while) CC is definitely the greedy guts. We’ve noticed this pattern before with clutches of leopard shark eggs; the first one tends to be a bit more relaxed, enjoys their food just as much as anyone…whereas the second one seems to think if they don’t eat all the food in the world they will never see it again.”

Leopard sharks are typically ocean floor dwellers; they’re slow swimmers and generally pose little risk to humans. Their diet is mostly made up of invertebrates like crabs, octopus and prawns. The somewhat shy sharks are found in tropical waters around the world including Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef.

While there may be 70 vertebrate species such as lizards and snakes that can have virgin births, to have a mother and daughter duo doing so in the same aquarium at the same time is astounding.

 

Shows: Townsville, North Queensland, Australia (June 20, 2016) (Tourism & Events Queensland – Access All)

0:00 Visitors at Reef HQ walking through aquarium.

0:11 Close up vision of fish inside aquarium shot through glass.

0:27 Shot of ‘Leonie’ the leopard shark swimming through aquarium, shot through glass.

1:24 Turtle swimming in aquarium, shot through glass.

1:31 Shark laying at bottom of aquarium, shot through glass.

1:39 Underwater vision of shark swimming at the bottom of the aquarium.

2:27 Shot of ‘Lolly’ laying at the bottom of aquarium, shot through glass.

2:57 Vision of ‘Cleo’ and ‘CC’ (CC on the bottom).

3:24 CC, then alternates between Cleo and CC thereafter.

3:40 Vision of shark (small) being fed in aquarium, shot through glass.

4:05 Vision of shark (small) swimming and being fed in aquarium, shot through glass.

4:41 Vision of staff feeding shark in aquarium.

5:09 Underwater vision of ‘CC’ and ‘Gemini’ swimming and being fed in aquarium.

5:34 Underwater vision of one of this years pups from Leonie prior to hatching in aquarium.

5:49 Underwater vision of one of this years pups from Leonie prior to hatching in aquarium, shining torch to show shark pup.

6:01 Underwater vision of one of this years pups from Leonie prior to hatching in aquarium, showing shark pup head.

Interview with Laura Coulton, Reef HQ Aquarist

6:27 It is biblical proportions – it’s what we call parthenogenesis which literally means virgin birth. So it’s producing an offspring without an egg actually being fertilized.

6:39 We’ve been working really closely with a researcher at the University of Queensland who came up and did a genetic sample of Cleo as well just to confirm our suspicions. And when the results came back from that – that it is definitely an example of parthenogenesis – that was incredible.

6:58 Cleo is – I think – the more laidback of the two, so she’s very cruisey, very laid back. She just came into the world expecting things to be nice and easy. CC is definitely the greedy guts out of the two, we’ve noticed this pattern before with clutches of leopard shark eggs. The first one tends to be a bit more relaxed, enjoys their food just as much as anyone but calmly so. Whereas the second one seems to think if they don’t eat all the food in the world, they will never see it again.

7:27 So the food they’re getting at the moment are things like squid strips, they’re getting little bits of fish so they’re moving on to those tougher items. So when they’re first born they’re getting prawns but with all the shell removed so its nice and small little pieces. So they’re working their way back to get up to the prawns. But with the shell, just gives them more enrichment in terms of the food but obviously introduces more of the nutritional requirements for. And they can get the things like calcium from those skeletons when they can get onto the larger items as well.

7:58 It is a very very unique occurrence and its particularly interesting with the case we have here because we’ve got a female which we know has been able to reproduce using normal sexual reproduction. And now something’s changed and she’s been able to switch to this completely different method as well and the other very exciting thing here is her younger daughter who is on display with her, who is eight years old this year, she actually started reproducing eggs for the first time just when she was alone in the tank with Mum. She’s never been kept with a male before and we’re seeing signs that she might actually be reproducing using parthenogenesis as well. So we have two potentially unique stories. We have one who has reproduced sexually and has swapped and one that has never produced sexually-produced offspring but has chosen right out of the gate to produce offspring on her own.

8:48 Obviously we’ve got Leonie who’s successfully gone through and reproduced these offspring all by herself. But now one of her daughters who is now eight years old this year who has only just started laying eggs within the last year has been showing these similar signs. She has been laying eggs and there’s signs of little embryos developing. Now she’s never been housed with a male, so there’s every chance she’s decided to follow in Mum’s footsteps – or Mum’s tail swish – and has decided to produce offspring through parthenogenesis as well.

Interview with Hamish Tristram, Senior Aquarist, Reef HQ Townsville

9:20 Here at Reef HQ we’re so excited about it. And in fact we’re going to become a huge story and a lot of scientific interest in what’s going on. And it raises a lot of questions – does this happen in the wild? Does it happen more often than we realize?

Interview with Fred Nucifora, Director, Reef HQ

9:32 The interesting bit of research that we want to find out in the future, is whether the offspring are reproductively viable as well. So we’re certainly going to be keeping the first of our pups Cleo here at Reef HQ just to see and explore a little further her ability to produce viable offspring.

09:54 ENDS

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The Nemo Nursery That’s Finding Homes For A Hollywood Favourite

TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA – He was the little guy who put Clownfish firmly on the map as an aquarium favourite, and now with Nemo and forgetful Dory set to shortly hit our screens again, no doubt many more fans will want a Nemo of their own at home.

Enter the students from Townsville’s Belgian Gardens State School, reportedly the only primary school in the world that sustainably breeds clownfish for aquariums in their very own Nemo nursery.

Belgian Gardens State School Science Teacher, Brett Murphy, says “We are very proud to be the only primary school in the world to breed Clownfish, it’s a fantastic opportunity for kids to have real life learning.”

The school is part of a program created by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), the agency tasked with safeguarding the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem. Since the program launched in 2003 more than 200,000 children in 310 Queensland schools have earned the title of ‘Reef Guardian’.

Megan Connell, Reef Guardian Schools Program Manager with GBRMPA, believes The Reef Guardian Program is critical to the future of The Reef.

“It’s a fantastic way for schools and communities to work together for environmental projects that help the reef in the long term. It gives students the opportunity to really understand what’s going on, on the Great Barrier Reef, and feel empowered to help towards a better future for our reef,” says Megan.

From caped kindergarten kids on beach rubbish patrol, to high school students taking underwater classes where they collect data on reef health, being a Reef Guardian is all about safeguarding the Great Barrier Reef.

“I never thought I’d have this experience ever as a kid of my age at a primary school. This is amazing,” says 11 year old Xavier Hood a student at Belgian Gardens State School.

Belgian Gardens State School has been a part of the Reef Guardian program since it launched in 2003, the same year Finding Nemo first hit the big screen.

Their clownfish breeding program has grown so successful, they raised 100 baby Nemos in 2015 at their aquarium called Reef BG.

“It’s all hands on; there is lots of science involved,” says Science Teacher Brett Murphy.

It might sound simple but raising Nemos is anything but child’s play, so teachers and students rely on the help of experts to get the project off the ground.

Megan Connell, who is based at the Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium in Townsville, says “Reef Guardian (Program) works with the school to assist them to know how to look after the fish, assist them in learning about the water quality, and also we provide fresh water to top up their BG fish tanks from time to time.”

Reef HQ Great Barrier Reef Aquarium is home to the world’s largest coral reef aquarium, and holds some 120 species of corals, and 150 species of fish.

“The students have to calculate how much live food is needed for the babies (and) then add that to the raring tank. They also make observations each day to make sure the babies are healthy and we also give a clean fresh water change every day as well,” says teacher Brett.

11 year old student Olivia Yates says “You get to learn about them in person rather than someone else telling you what to do.”

While they’re breeding future eco-warriors at Belgian Gardens State School, the captive-bred clownfish are sold to the public for aquariums, to help protect them from being taken from the wild.

Teacher Brett says, “I think the biggest positive for us is that every Clownfish that we breed here at Belgian Gardens is one less (fish) being taken from the reef. Clownfish are a vulnerable species and we can make that little bit of difference for them.”

“That’s really good news for The Great Barrier Reef,” adds Megan. “Because they can continue to breed and multiply out there. It also means that almost every aquarium here in Townsville has one of Reef BG’s Nemo fish.”

The school not only breeds the traditional Nemos, they also have started breeding the rare black and white Clownfish.

“The black Clownfish, not many people get to see them in the wild. Having them at school is a really cool opportunity for most of the kids to see,” says 11 year old student Anneke Everson.

While they haven’t starting breeding their own Dorys, the students at Belgian Gardens State School raise their own sea horses, propagate coral and use all that ‘fish poop’ from the aquarium to grow fruit and vegetables on the school grounds.

The Reef Guardian program has proved so successful it’s now being adopted around the world.

“There’s a Reef Guardian Program in the Caribbean. We work with some Reef Guardians in Canada and we often get interest from around the world to join Reef Guardianships because everybody worldwide wants to help look after our Great Barrier Reef,” explained Megan Connell.

Shows:

0:00 School children walking in to aquarium and starting work.

0:14 School children cleaning fish tanks.

0:32 Rare black and white ‘Nemo’ fish in tank.

0:37 School teacher with students in aquarium.

1:04 School children feeding ‘Nemo’ fish in tank.

1:20 Close up vision of black and white ‘Nemo’ fish being fed by school student.

1:32 Black and white ‘Nemo’ fish in tank with traditional orange and white ‘Nemo’ – demonstrating the mixed breeding program.

1:46 Larvae close up vision.

1:55 Close up vision of black and white ‘Nemo’ fish in tank.

2:11 Exterior vision of Reef HQ – Great Barrier Reef Aquarium.

2:22 School students sitting inside Reef HQ looking at giant aquarium talking to Megan Connell.

2:47 ‘Nemo’ fish swimming at Reef HQ with ‘Dorys’.

3:04 General vision of other reef fish swimming in aquarium at Reef HQ.

3:20 ‘Nemo’ fish tank where visitors can stand in the middle of the tank.

Interview with Megan Connell, Reef Guardian Schools Program Manager, GBRMPA (Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority)

3:47 Reef HQ and Belgian Gardens have been working together for a really long time on the Reef Guardian Schools Program. Reef Guardian works together with Belgian Gardens to assist them to know how to look after the fish; assist them learning about the water quality and also we provide fresh water to top up their BG fish tanks from time to time.

4:09 The Reef Guardian Program is critical, I believe, to helping with the future of The Great Barrier Ree. It’s a fantastic way for schools and communities to work together for environmental projects that help the Reef in the long term. It gives students the opportunity to really understand what’s going on, on The Great Barrier Reef, and feel empowered to help towards a better future for our reef.

4:30 We’ve got over 200,000 students across Queensland that are Reef Guardians but we also educate other parts of the world in being Reef Guardians. There’s a Reef Guardian Program in the Caribbean; we work with some Reef Guardians in Canada and we often get interest from around the world to join Reef Guardianships because everybody worldwide wants to help look after our Great Barrier Reef.

4:55 Every ‘Nemo’ or Clownfish that’s bred in Reef BG is one less Clownfish that’s taken from The Great Barrier Reef and that’s really good news for The Great Barrier Reef because they can continue to breed and multiply out there. It also means that almost every aquarium here in Townsville has one of Reef BG’s ‘Nemo’ fish.

Interview with Brett Murphy, Science Teacher, Belgian Gardens State School, Townsville North Queensland.

5:11 We are very proud to be the only primary school in the world to breed Clownfish … a fantastic opportunity for kids to have real life learning. It’s all hands on, lots of science involved.

5:22 The students have to calculate how much live food is needed for the babies, They then add that to the raring tank. They then also make observations each day to make sure the babies are healthy and we also give a clean fresh water change every day as well.

5:38 I think the biggest positive for us is that every Clownfish that we breed here at Belgian Gardens is one less being taken from the reef. And the Clownfish are a vulnerable species and we can make that little bit of difference for them.

Interview with Xavier Hood, Student Belgian Gardens State School

5:51 This breeding program everyone, every fish, that is bred and sold is one less taken from the reef. And that just amazes me that people would take them from the reef and we can stop that.

6:02 I never thought I’d have this experience ever as a kid of my age at a primary school this is amazing.

Interview with Anneke Everson Student Belgian Gardens State School

6:07 The black Clownfish – not many people get to see them in the wild – having them at school is a really cool opportunity for most of the kids here to see.

Interview with Lily Twiname (L) and Olivia Yates (R) Students Belgian Gardens State School

6:15 You get to learn about them in person rather than someone else telling you what to do.

6:21 General vision of The Great Barrier Reef – Aerials.

6:30 Clownfish swimming on the reef in the wild.

6:36 Vision of school of fish on the reef.

6:42 Vision of diver swimming among reef and fish.

06:51 ENDS

The Underwater Army Tackling The Great Barrier Reef’s Prickliest Pest One Shot At A Time

THE GREAT BARRIER REEF, AUSTRALIA – They’re divers on a very important mission; to preserve the world’s largest coral reef ecosystem from a predator whose appetite knows no bounds.

One of the team securing the containment lines around the reef is Mat Trueman, a dive supervisor who now dedicates his life to the fight against Crown of Thorns Starfish (CoTS).

“I like to do my part to make sure we’re getting rid of the Crown of Thorns on the reef so that it helps preserve it for future generations,’ said Mat.

Mat works for the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators (AMPTO), the organisation that manages the Crown of Thorns Control Program in Queensland. He leads teams of up to 12 men and women on 10-day voyages off the coast of Cairns and Port Douglas in Tropical North Queensland.

While it sounds like an idyllic job, diving the Great Barrier Reef four times a day – to contain outbreaks – is gruelling work.

Thanks to a new culling technique, which sees the starfish injected with bile salts from cattle, Mat and his team are reclaiming reef territory faster than ever before. One quick and simple injection euthanizes a starfish, without harming the reef, a far cry from the previous method in which divers had to inject the reef pests up to 30 times.

“Using the old technology and sodium bi-sulfate it used to take around about six minutes to deal with a (single) Crown of Thorns Starfish,” explained Executive Director of AMPTO, Col McKenzie. “These days with a single-shot injection, we are able to deal with one every four or five seconds.

“We would be pretty happy if we could take 500 Crown of Thorns in a day using the old method. (With) the new method, the best we’ve done is 7000.”

Also helping AMPTO teams to seek and destroy the starfish is a military invention called the SeaDoo, currently being trialled to help divers move quicker through the water and cover greater territory.

Since 2012, teams from AMPTO have destroyed more than 400,000 of the starfish, which are native to the waters of North Queensland. In healthy numbers Crown of Thorns Starfish are essential to the future of the reef, consuming fast growing corals so that slower growing corals have a chance to develop. If left unchecked, CoTS has the potential to devour large coral outcrops.

Learning about the size and the fragility of the reef along with its beauty is all part of the experience for visitors like Cynthia Diamond from Minneapolis in Minnesota, USA who last week booked a Reef Magic day trip to Moore Reef just off Cairns.

“I don’t think people realize how big (the Reef) is in that it’s multiple reefs in one. I was amazed to find out how many square metres (it is) and that it’s as big as the country of Japan,” said Cynthia.

“People would be amazed if they came here for the first time and discovered what I discovered in an hour under the water.”

Eric Fisher, a marine biologist with Reef Magic, said a visit to the reef is as much a lesson in ecology as as it is in beauty.

“The education is very important and the reef has millions of stories to tell. We like people to take home a couple of those stories they affiliate with. That helps their understanding of the reef and their care for the reef as well.

“(The Great Barrier Reef) is a world heritage site. It’s not just for Australians, it belongs to the whole world,” added Eric.

Every cloud has a silver lining, and while the Crown of Thorns may be a threat to the reef, they’re providing valuable training and employment for young men and women in the local area.

“We’re actually running two programs here,” said Col McKenzie. “One is the Crown of Thorns control program and the other is called Skilling Queenslanders for Work program. That second program takes unemployed youth and we teach them to be occupational divers using the Crown of Thorns as the catalyst. So we’re getting an employment benefit as well as an ecological benefit.”

Dive supervisor Mat is a star graduate of the program. “I was in the original unemployed youth program. After I completed my training I came back a couple of years later and now I’m dive supervisor on the vessel.”

It takes the young divers six months to gain their dive master status; so far 145 men and women have graduated from the program with an 85% employment rate.

 

Shows:

00:00 Underwater vision of divers injecting Crown of Thorns starfish

01:10 Close up underwater vision of Crown of Thorns starfish on reef

01:20 AMPTO team divers Gabriel Stephen and John Kinbacher, both from Cairns, Queensland

01:29 Underwater vision of divers searching for and injecting Crown of Thorns starfish

02:04 Vision of reef and clownfish

02:10 Vision of research vessel

02:17 Vision of team of divers on board vessel having pre dive briefing

02:49 Vision of divers putting on scuba equipment and preparing to dive

03:10 Divers checking and preparing Crown of Thorns culling equipment, syringes etc

03:20 Divers entering water (above water view)

03:59 Divers exiting water after dive (above water view)

04:11 Diver entering water (above water view)

04:46 Throwing SeaDoo into water and riding it on the surface

05:24 Underwater vision of SeaDoo being used by diver

06:00 Col McKenzie Executive Director AMPTO

Using the old technology and sodium bi-sulfate it used to take around about six minutes to deal with the Crown of Thorns (starfish). These days with a single shot injection that has been developed we are able to deal with one every four or five seconds. An example would be a daily catch. We would be pretty happy if we could take 500 Crown of Thorns in a day using the old method. The new method the best we’ve done is 7000.

06:23 We’re actually running two programs; one is the Crown of Thorns control program and the other is called Skilling Queenslanders for Work program. And that program takes unemployed youth and we teach them to be occupational divers using the Crown of Thorns as the catalyst so we’re getting an employment benefit as well as an ecological benefit. So what is means, is that the people we’re training will be able to be working in the marine tourism industry – hopefully with a good career structure.

06:50 Mat Trueman – Dive Supervisor, AMPTO

I was in the original unemployed youth program after I completed my training I came back a couple of years later and now I’m dive supervisor on the vessel.

07:00 I enjoyed diving on the reef; it’s a beautiful environment. I like to do my part to make sure we’re getting rid of the Crown of Thorns on the reef so that it helps preserve it for future generations.

07:14 Vision of tourists on board ‘Reef Magic’ boat heading to the reef and listening to a presentation by a marine biologist Eric Fisher.

07:29 Eric Fisher, Marine Biologist, Reef Magic

The education is very important. We’re in charge of the interpretation and we like to interpret the reef although it has millions of stories it can tell. We like people to take home a couple of those stories they affiliate with. That helps their understanding of the reef and they care for the reef as well. It is a world heritage site it’s not just for Australians it belongs to the whole world.

07:52 They are seeing our reef at that minute at that snapshot in time that somebody else might not see until the following year and that’s what we try to get across – that the reef is a great place … one of the coolest, best reef systems in the world – and you should keep coming back to it because it keeps changing for the better everyday.

08:10 Tourists swimming on the reef using snorkels (above water vision) at Marineworld, Moore Reef, Great Barrier Reef

Vox pop with Cynthia Diamond

08:30 It was actually more than I ever expected even in, like, just a short scuba diving session we saw schools of different coloured fish and all the coral walls. It was just fantastic.

08:42 (re education) I do think it’s important, I don’t think people realize how big it is in that its multiple reefs in one. And I was really amazed to find out how many square metres it covers in the ocean and that it’s as big as the country of Japan. So I think it’s important that people realize that. And I think people would be amazed if they came here for the first time and just discovered what I discovered in an hour under the water

09:05 Library vision -Vision of tourist swimming on the reef (underwater view) **audio mute

09:17 Library vision – Aerial vision of ‘Heart Reef’ as well as coral cays surrounding Fairfax Island.

09:40 ENDS

Meet Peter Gash: Environmental Crusader and World Environment Day Champion

LADY ELLIOT ISLAND, AUSTRALIA –  In a world of tourism that strives to be bigger, bolder and more luxurious, there is one man who stands to make a difference – ecological crusader, world environment champion and co-owner of Lady Elliot Island, Peter Gash. In the lead up to World Environment Day on Sunday, June 5, Peter outlines what it took to protect and preserve his tiny piece of Great Barrier Reef paradise.

  • From pilot to preservationist, Peter has transformed a pile of guano into an eco resort that gifts guests with a love for the marine environment and a desire to protect it. 
  • Lady Elliot is the first island resort to ban disposable water bottles 
  • Solar Power stations have more than halved the reliance on diesel fuel

Since securing the lease on Lady Elliot Island and its 150-bed Eco Resort in 2005, Peter Gash has transformed this small Queensland island paradise on the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef into a shining example of innovative ecological tourism practices at its best.

It is the first island in Australia to ban the sale of plastic water bottles, it is powered by a Hybrid Solar Power Station and it has no high rise buildings. Further, under Gash’s green thumb (and his green mindset), what was once an atoll mined bare for its premium guano “poo”, is now a pretty coral cay well on its return to looking how it did pre-European settlement. What took nature 3500 years to build – and just years to strip bare – is taking this man thousands of native plants to regenerate.

But running a tourist operation on a daily basis, particularly one that is 80 kilometres out to sea on the edge of the outer Great Barrier Reef, is no simple feat.

“Managing a pristine island eco resort on the Great Barrier Reef presents many challenges,” said Peter Gash.

“When we took over the stewardship and management of Lady Elliot Island Eco Lodge in 2005, it required 550 litres of diesel each day just to produce power.

“That was almost 200,000 litres per year – and at $1.50 per litre, it cost $300,000 per annum. The fact that the fuel was barged out from the mainland added more diesel burn and another 540 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per annum to the environment.”

So in December 2008, Peter built a three-phase solar hybrid power station on the island – it’s currently one of the larger privately-owned systems of its kind Australia – to battle the large energy and power demand.

Just two years after implementing the solar power system, Lady Elliot’s fuel consumption more than halved – with less than 70,000 litres of diesel used and less than 195 tonnes of emissions produced per annum.

And to think, this focus all began when Peter first snorkelled off Lady Elliot Island on the Great Barrier Reef. Captivated by its natural beauty, he became a licensed pilot and began flying tourists to both Lady Elliot Island and Lady Musgrave Island for more than 20 years.

But, simply sharing the intoxicating beauty of this island was not enough.

““Lady Elliot Island is special for so many reasons. It’s remarkable in it’s contrasts. It’s a place of unique and pristine maratime environment. Yet at the same time a recovering mine site.”

“I happen to believe in the following words that were penned by someone far more articulate than myself. We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children,” Peter said.

“To look after our environment, we must be efficient, we must be economical in all we do, we must continue to educate, particularly our young people who will take over from our stewardship.”

Over time, the ‘lady’ arrested his heart and Peter did what any man in love would do – he made the island his own, with the help of his wife and two business partners.

In just eight short years, Peter has already taken monumental steps to reduce the island’s carbon footprint and restore it back to the what nature intended it to be.

“Lady Elliot Island is the jewel in the crown of the Great Barrier Reef. It’ helps us to educate people what they can do for their town, their city, their country, their home.”

“I just love to see the looks of joy on our guests’ faces when they experience the pristine wilderness of such a beautiful place.”

 

For more information on Lady Elliot Island: http://www.ladyelliot.com.au

 

Find out more about the megafauna in the Great Barrier Reef:

http://teq.queensland.com/news-and-media/queensland-media-centre/latest-destination-news

 

To holiday on the Great Barrier Reef:

http://www.queenslandholidays.com.au/experiences/great-barrier-reef/great-barrier-reef_home.cfm

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