July 13, 2017

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Mission Blue is proud to partner with Great Barrier Reef Legacy! 

By: Jenna Rumney


Great Barrier Reef Legacy (GBR Legacy) aims to change the way the Great Barrier Reef is understood and protected by operating the reefs only independent research vessel. Our team consists of marine scientists, educators, tourism operators and media experts with over 90 years of collective reef knowledge and experience. Our ‘floating laboratory’ will provide free access to scientists, an interactive classroom for students, a platform for collaboration between existing environmental organizations, and a multimedia powerhouse to share news from the reef with the rest of the world.

Image: GBR Legacy

Our mission is to create a groundswell of community connection and passion for coral reefs which is of global significance. We will operate beyond the reach of ever-changing lobby based governments, funding our projects by harnessing private, public and corporate donations.

The Future of the Great Barrier Reef

With polarized comments like ‘the reef is dead’ to ‘the reef is fine’, it can be difficult to understand what is really going on with Australia’s iconic natural treasure and World Heritage site. In a nutshell – reef tourism can still offer an enjoyable experience but coral health is rapidly declining and must be urgently addressed. 

Summer 2017 brought on a second mass coral bleaching event with abnormally high and prolonged water temperatures, piggybacking the ‘worst coral bleaching event on record’ in 2016. It’s important to note that coral bleaching is not uniform – it varies significantly across species and locations. Although very stressful on coral, bleaching doesn’t necessarily equate to death. If conditions improve within a few weeks then corals do have the ability to recover. Therefore, in looking at the long-term effects of coral bleaching, it may be more helpful to talk in terms of coral mortality. Figures vary across news outlets but according to the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, shallow water corals suffered 29% mortality in 2016 and 20% in 2017 – making the total coral mortality over the past two years around 50% – a shocking and sobering finding.

Can Super Corals Save Threatened Reefs?

GBR Legacy’s Search for the Super Corals Expedition is planned for November 2017. We will be joined by a number of leading marine scientists including Dr. Charlie Veron who discovered more than 20% of the world’s coral species.

Our team will identify and study coral ‘winners and losers’ from the recent mass bleaching events. In addition, we will undertake a whole ecosystem health check to determine how the far north is faring, as scientists have virtually no access to this part of Australia.

Image: GBR Legacy

To ensure everyone can see these remote locations themselves we will be carrying out visual transects both underwater and via drones, which will be made available free and open source. We wish to facilitate field access and information sharing across geographic and institutional boundaries and are now calling for expressions of interest from other eminent scientists to join this groundbreaking expedition.

What will ultimately determine the fate of coral reefs worldwide is how quickly we stop burning fossil fuels and heating our planet. The solution to climate change is not a scientific or technological problem but a political one. It’s about connecting people with the environment – through their actions, hearts, and minds. It’s what we need right now – hope – not only here but globally for all coral reefs.

According to the UN report on climate change, a 2C rise in global surface temperatures will result in the loss of more than 95% of coral around the world. If the world limits warming to 1.5C, we might save 10%. If we want to save 50% of what’s around right now, we need to limit warming to just 1.2C – and we’re already more than 80% of the way there.

Image: GBR Legacy

Creating an impassioned public that demands decisive action against climate change combined with effective reef management, investment in research and raised public awareness will give the Great Barrier Reef and coral reefs worldwide a fighting chance. Yes, our coral reefs are in trouble, but please don’t give up on them yet.

We at GBR Legacy and extremely proud to partner with Mission Blue and know that with the support of organizations like this and people like you there are no Barriers too Great to save our Reefs!

 If you would like more information please contact info@gbrlegacy.org. 

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2 Comments

  • is it not true that carbon emmissions are one part of the problem. but methane gas from belching cows is even more of the problem ? what say you ?

  • Diane Knight says:

    myself (78) and a 16-yr-old friend wish to start a small ‘museum’ and information site for our oceans. Our site is on a well-used bike trail in the midwest that attracts many tourists. We plan to have some art events for children and information collecting and distributing events for adults. We will be collecting posters, facts and anything we can find to raise the awareness of our damaged oceans. We will be showing “Chasing Coral”, “Mission Blue”, “Sea of Hope” and TED talks as soon as we can get set up to do so. We would appreciate anything you might want to add to our display and any information that might help us find the best way to inform the people in the midwest of the great urgency needed. We all need to know what to do.

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