With every drop of water you drink, every breath you take, you’re connected to the sea. No matter where on Earth you live.
– Sylvia Earle
Recently, many on social media have been sharing articles which claim that the Great Barrier Reef is dead. Can this really be true?! Can the world’s largest living structure actually be gone?
Actually, No. It is true that the Great Barrier Reef has recently experienced the most serious bleaching event to hit the reef on record, but it is certainly no reason to give up hope. Contrary to many statistics being shared online, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority says that 3 quarters of the coral on the reef has survived to date. While some of the coral will die, others will bounce back, and with quite some success. With the overall mortality rate at 22%, while not great, it is more of a reason for us to pay attention than to panic and then forget about it. The Great Barrier Reef is still an amazing and resilient structure, which is why we should get involved now.
There are many organizations out there doing incredible research and participating in cool projects that could turn things around. For example, the Great Barrier Reef Foundation is testing biodegradable surface films, or ‘reef sunscreen’ to combat coral bleaching. This same foundation is also in the process of creating an innovative strategy that can create an early warning system for coral reefs under stress before any physical signs are visible, or a ‘stress test.’
You can get involved with their efforts here: https://www.barrierreef.org/get-involved
There are also organizations like the Coral Reef Alliance, which like JGI, work together with the communities to support coexistence with these ecosystems instead of harming them. The Alliance encourages sustainable tourism, reduces local reef threats and helps fund local businesses so that they don’t resort to exploiting the reef’s resources.
Get involved with them here: http://coral.org/what-you-can-do/
Our friend, actor and activist Adrian Grenier, founded the organization Lonely Whale. By using the story of a whale who is unheard, they desire to reach each of us with the idea that we cannot live in isolation or disconnected from this issue. We must speak out and work together. It is dedicated to using education and awareness to inspire empathy and action for ocean health. Recently, Adrian swam with Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, 2 miles across Italy’s Strait of Messina to raise awareness for marine protection.
Learn more here: http://www.lonelywhale.org/
Finally, there’s an organization called Fight For the Reef, that campaigns to stop industrial port expansion. By supporting strong laws, funding to cut farm pollution and turning down the heat on the reef by investing in renewable energy, this organization is making great strides in reef protection. This organization brings people together to, as Jane puts it, “speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves.”
You can help with their campaign, or donate here: https://fightforthereef.org.au/election-action/
Sea What You Can Do
22% of the Great Barrier Reef may be gone, but instead of seeing this is a reason to give up, we should see it as a call to action. 78% percent of the Great Barrier Reef is still colorful and alive, and it is certainly worth fighting for! Coral reefs are essential to the health of our oceans as they protect coastlines from storms and degradation, and provide homes and food for millions of marine organisms. There is also enormous economic value to the reef and reefs around the globe, providing an estimated $375 billion in goods and services each year, while only covering less than 1% of the earth’s surface. With these steps and potential for regrowth, there is no way we can turn on backs on these extraordinary ecosystems.