COTS Diver

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Ways you can help the Great Barrier Reef

TNQ Writer

The Great Barrier Reef is an extraordinary mosaic of coloured corals spotted with curious creatures. While the threats to its future are real and immediate, it’s important to know that there are many things you can do to help.

It’s no secret that climate change and human activity have great effects on the Great Barrier Reef’s health. Rather than responding with apathy, immediate simple actions can help ensure the reef is around for generations to come. Here are a few things you can do to help:

Come and visit

Come see for yourself why it's worth saving

Contrary to popular belief, coming to see the Great Barrier Reef helps in its conservation. Every visitor to the reef pays a mandatory Environmental Management Charge aka “reef tax” which contributes to the day-to-day management of the Marine Park and improving its long-term resilience. Furthermore, if you see it, you’ll truly value and appreciate it; the more of people that do that, the more the world values it and the more the world will do to protect it.

Learn about why it's so important at Reef Teach

Enjoy the entertaining Reef Teach evening show

With learning comes appreciation and what better way to help than to understand what it is that needs saving. The passionate staff at Reef Teach aim to educate and enhance peoples’ reef experiences as they delve into the beauty, curiosities and importance of the Great Barrier Reef. Led by marine biologist and reef warrior Gareth Phillips, Reef Teach is Cairns’ only dedicated marine education, research and conservation company. Not only is their evening show educational, it’s captivating, entertaining and will leave you feeling inspired, armed with a wealth of new knowledge.

For those wishing to dive in deeper, Reef Teach’s Underwater Naturalist program allows you to snorkel or dive with your very own private marine biologist to explore the reef in greater detail. Qualified Marine Biologists also accompany most tour boats if you have any questions while on board and haven’t yet made it to a Reef Teach session.

Become a Citizen of the Great Barrier Reef

CEO, Andy Ridley with the Citizens Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef on the Cairns Esplanade

Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef aims to build a global community of people dedicated to making small personal changes that drive a unified positive change for the reef and the planet. This initiative, driven by Andy Ridley, founder of Earth Hour, asks Citizens to sign up to actions such as “Hold the Straw”, “BYOB (bring your own bag/bottle)” or “Sponsor a COTS (Crown-of-thorns starfish) Diver”. Each action you commit to increases your impact score, which you can track directly on your very own Citizens dashboard.

“The actions of people across the planet will define the future of the Reef.”
– Andy Ridley, CEO Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef

Contribute to Eye on the Reef program

Crown-of-thorns starfish

Run by Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), Eye on the Reef relies on the input of day-trippers, tourists, fishers, rangers, researchers and scientists alike to gather information on reef health, marine animals and incidents for the reef’s long-term protection. Anyone can contribute to this program via an easy to use app that allows you to share photos and information of what you’ve seen on the reef including wildlife spotted, Crown-of-thorns starfish, pollution or coral spawning. All data collected allows GBRMPA to keep up-to-date with information on reef health status and trends, species distribution and early warnings of environmental impacts.

For those more skilled in the marine space, with a bit more time on your hands, the program also runs a variety of surveys, including the Rapid Monitoring Survey, which asks contributors to use an underwater monitoring slate for more in-depth data collection.

Volunteer with Tangaroa Blue Foundation

Volunteers help remove litter from beaches

Did you know that plastic can make coral 20 times more susceptible to disease? Tangaroa Blue Foundation is dedicated to the removal and prevention of marine debris under their Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI). AMDI is an on-ground network of volunteers, communities and organisations that contribute data from rubbish collected during beach and river clean-up events to the AMDI Database, and then work on solutions to stop the flow of litter at the source.

Tangaroa Blue Foundation organise beach clean-ups around Australia including throughout Tropical North Queensland and help communities care for their coastal environment through providing resources and support programs. Carpooling options to participate are usually available from Cairns and Port Douglas to areas including Cape Kimberley at the Daintree, and Mapoon and Chilli Beach in Cape York.

Reduce your carbon footprint

Did you know takeaway coffee cups can't be recycled?

While programs such as Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef and Tangaroa Blue Foundation encourage similar actions, there are many simple steps you can take to achieve a greener lifestyle:

  • Opt to cycle, walk or carpool to work
  • Get involved with Meatless Monday
  • Cut out single-use plastics such as plastic bags, straws or takeaway coffee cups
  • Plant an edible garden
  • Pick up and dispose of any litter you come across
  • Dine in, not take away
  • Avoid packaged foods where possible
  • Reduce your leftover food waste

Discover the beauty of the reef

Learn more about this incredible underwater wonderland.

Gareth Phillips snorkelling on the reef
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