10 Ways To Save The Great Barrier Reef

By Steph Wright on June 21 2020 in Geography

Lonely catamaran in the Great Barrier Reef. Image credit: Alexandre G. ROSA/Shutterstock.com
Lonely catamaran in the Great Barrier Reef. Image credit: Alexandre G. ROSA/Shutterstock.com
  • The Great Barrier Reef is situated in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia.
  • The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef system. It comprises over 2,900 individual reefs.
  • Around 30 percent of the coral died during the great bleaching of 2016.

The Great Barrier Reef is situated in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland, Australia. It stretches a distance of over 1,250 miles and is the world’s largest coral reef system, comprising over 2,900 individual reefs. The ecosystem is of huge importance to scientists as it provides a clear and testable record of climatic events over the last million years, as well as providing insight into the thousands of species that make their home there. However, tourism, climate change, and pollution are threatening the future of the Reef; around 30 percent of the coral died during the great bleaching of 2016. Scientists and environmentalists are working hard to preserve the life of the Great Barrier Reef, but there are many things you can also do to help conserve its existence. Read on below to find out 10 ways to save the Great Barrier Reef.

10. Fight for climate change legislation

A march to fight against global warming. Image credit: DisobeyArt/Shutterstock.com
A march to fight against global warming. Image credit: DisobeyArt/Shutterstock.com

Write an email or letter to your member of Congress, or your country’s equivalent, to request their support in fighting for climate change. Climate change is one of the biggest risks to the Reef and every country has a responsibility in tackling it. You can craft your own email or utilize a template, which can be found online. Phone calls are also a very effective way of drawing attention to your cause, websites like Citizens’ Climate Lobby provide scripts if you need some guidance with what to say. To find out your member of Congress, you can use this database. If you are outside of the U.S, a quick internet search will find a database that has the information of your local member of Parliament or similar.

9. Practice safe boating and diving

Touching corals can damage them permanently. Snorkellers and divers must make sure not to touch sea organisms. Image credit: ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock.com
Touching corals can damage them permanently. Snorkellers and divers must make sure not to touch sea organisms. Image credit: ChameleonsEye/Shutterstock.com

If you plan on diving or snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef, the main rule is to not touch anything or to take anything away. Touching coral and other organisms can damage and kill them. Be wary of your fins as they can cause damage if they come into contact with the coral. If you are boating or yachting near the reef, be careful with the propeller. Ensure it does not come into contact with any coral or organisms. Make sure no paint, lubricants, or fuel spill into the water as these can be incredibly toxic to the environment. If you do have an oil or petrol spill, report it to the authorities immediately.

8. Learn about the Great Barrier Reef

Coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef, Port Douglas, Far North Queensland. Image credit: Darkydoors/Shutterstock.com
Coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef, Port Douglas, Far North Queensland. Image credit: Darkydoors/Shutterstock.com

Expand your knowledge about the Great Barrier Reef and research the ways to protect it. The Barrier Reef is not only the world’s largest collection of coral reefs, but it is an essential habitat to over thousands of species. It also helps to protect coastlines from waves and storms and assists in filtering impurities from the sea. There are numerous articles, studies, research papers and infographics online that provide information on the Great Barrier Reef. Check your local libraries and bookstores for hardcopy resources, too.

7. Donate to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation

Donating, even if it just a small sum, helps to save endangered marine species and helps to find solutions to the threats facing the Reef. Many organizations such as the Great Barrier Reef Foundation have a range of donation amounts as well as the option to make your contribution a recurring gift. If you are not in a position to give money yourself, you can help raise awareness to others or create a charity event to raise money in support of the Reef.  

6. Stay at an Eco Resort

If you are planning on vacationing to the Great Barrier Reef, opt to stay in an eco-resort. The central focus of eco-resorts are sustainability and social responsibility; they aim to have a minimal impact on the environment while giving back to the local community. There are a number of eco-friendly accommodation options that are near the Great Barrier Reef, which cater to a range of budgets, from cozy tented cabins to more luxurious retreats. Many of the resorts have research or educational facilities too, so you can find out more about how to protect the Reef.

5. Be mindful when visiting the beach

McDonald's cup littered on sandy beach in Australia. Image credit: Ben Wehrman/Shutterstock.com
McDonald's cup littered on sandy beach in Australia. Image credit: Ben Wehrman/Shutterstock.com

When visiting a beach along the coast of Queensland, be mindful of what you take with you and what you take away when you leave. If you are planning on having a picnic on the beach, choose to bring homemade food (if possible) and avoid single-use plastic, as once it is disposed of, it ends up in the oceans. If you have any litter at the end of your day, be sure to throw it away responsibly. Use recycling receptacles and do not leave anything behind at the beach.

4. Attend a clean-up event

It is estimated that approximately 13 million metric tons end up in the oceans each year, which is having a severe impact on marine ecosystems, including the Great Barrier Reef. However, organizations like Tangaroa Blue Foundation are committed to cleaning up the trash that gets washed up on the beaches around Australia. Tangaroa frequently holds events where volunteers dedicate some time to help pick up the litter. Despite this, you do not need to join an event to help clean-up the beaches – you can do this any time you are at the beach.

3. Be more eco-friendly

Even if you do not live near the Great Barrier Reef or even close to the ocean, your day to day life has an impact on the marine ecosystems. Saving the oceans helps to preserve the Reef. Be more environmentally friendly by cutting out single-use plastics like straws or take-out coffee cups, reduce water consumption – do not leave faucets running when brushing your teeth, and opt to carpool or take public transport instead of driving to work.

2. Join a volunteer program

If you have the time and the money, choose to join a volunteer program to help preserve the Great Barrier Reef. During the program, you will work alongside professional marine biologists to collect vital data about the coral reef conditions and survey the animals that inhabit the Reef. If you live locally to the Great Barrier Reef, you can volunteer with organizations to help educate the community about the importance of the Reef.   

1. Raise awareness

Sydneysiders went snorkelling in Hyde Park fountain today in protest of the planned expansion of coal ports on the Great Barrier Reef. Image credit: Kate Ausburn/Shutterstock.com
Sydneysiders went snorkelling in Hyde Park fountain today in protest of the planned expansion of coal ports on the Great Barrier Reef. Image credit: Kate Ausburn/Shutterstock.com

Not everyone is aware of the importance of the Great Barrier Reef and its role in the marine ecosystem. It is necessary to raise awareness and this can be done in a number of ways, including starting petitions, having conversations with friends and family, organizing fundraisers, spreading the word on social media. By increasing peoples’ awareness of the threats to the Reef and oceans, the more that can be done to protect and save the planet.   

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