A Blue Hole Expedition May Help Save The Great Barrier Reef ⋆
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A Blue Hole Expedition May Help Save The Great Barrier Reef

Daydream Island Resort discovered a remote site of healthy coral, and it will now be one of the areas surveyed as a part of a big pilot project to help conserve and protect the Great Barrier Reef. Led by Earth Hour founder Andy Ridley, the citizens of the Great Barrier Reef have developed one of the world’s largest collaborative scientific surveys.

They are exploring as much of the Reef as they can in order to discover valuable insights into guaranteeing its future as the climate changes.

This pilot project will delve into the Blue Hole, a remote sinkhole surrounded by healthy corals identified by Daydream Island’s marine biologist Johnny Gaskell, and note down observations and discoveries. Hopefully, ‘The Great Reef Census’ will create a broad, trustworthy scientific overview of the reefs that are considered to be driving recovery of the broader ecosystem.

This census is also intended to create awareness globally of the Reef’s protection and what we can do to make a difference.

“To realize a project as challenging as the Great Reef Census, we are going to need the help of people, not just from one end of the Reef to the other, but from all over the world,” Ridley said.

“This is one of those moments when you really can help do something good for the planet so sign up to the great reef census project and tell us how you want to be involved, either in the water, helping with the analysis or sharing with the world.”

The census will occur over an eight-week period, starting in spring 2020 (in the US this would be Autumn) in partnership with the University of Queensland, the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre, GBRMPA and AIMS.

Gaskell teamed up with Ridley, Citizens GBR Ambassador & international model Jarrod Scott, and world-leading Reef scientist Professor Peter Mumby on an expedition last month to the Blue Hole to try out the census’s methodology.

Uncharted Waters

Their documentation covered the Reef in some of its most uncharted, pure stretches of coral. This was the first thoroughly in-water test of the method, and it was a success. Gaskell noted the importance of the census as it will shed light on the current condition of all of the Great Barrier Reef through one single moment in time.

“It was a real honor to be involved in the pilot project and assist with the development of the methodology for the initial trials alongside Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef,” Gaskell said, “And, to find the corals that we did, made the expedition even more of a success, as they may be among the most important source reefs for coral recruitment in the Great Barrier Reef.”

According to Scott, they struggled with some pretty horrible weather during the 14-hour-long overnight steam. They arrived just before dawn, completely worn out.

“When we got into the water my mind was blown. We found two key source reefs. The colors and scale of the coral was incredible. To see such pristine, diverse, 100% coral cover without any damage was a massive discovery,” he said.

“To pilot the Great Reef Census methodology in uncharted coral stretches and be part of the world’s largest collaborative scientific survey that will change the way we view the Great Barrier Reef forever is extremely exciting.”

Taking on the surveying of the Great Barrier Reef is quite the task as it spans 2,300km in length and over 3,000 individual reefs, but the hope is that this census will give information on damaged reefs as well as those with high levels of coral. All of this information will help them know which reefs need closer management.

All of the data they are collecting will not only be fed back into established marine monitoring and assessment programs like GBRMPA’s Eye on the Reef, but it will also be open-source and free to anyone all over the world.