The Great Barrier Reef is one of the Earth’s most beautiful natural wonders. Unfortunately, it’s been under attack for years, with pollution and the warming climate gradually destroying life there. Thankfully, a new expedition suggests that all is not lost for this stunning Australian ecosystem.
The Great Barrier Reef expedition
Most people think of cruises as boat trips purely designed to keep tourists entertained as they slowly travel from one country to another. However, that’s not what the “Citizens Science of the Great Barrier Reef” voyage was in 2021. This 10-day expedition involved scientists and conservation-minded individuals coming together to help the fragile ecosystem. Two conservation projects took center stage here, including one that involved studying the behavior of the dwarf minke whales. The other was based around collecting coral samples to add to a biobank, the success of which would ensure that the coral can survive and thrive for years to come.
The outcome of the expedition
Before the expedition, there were 35 species in the biobank. By the end, that number had more than doubled to 85. By going on the voyage, the scientists were able to obtain more than a fifth of the diversity of hard corals in the region, a significant step towards keeping the Great Barrier Reef alive. With so many species now in the biobank, it’s easier to work out how to keep them alive and ensure that extinction isn’t an option. That wasn’t the only notable thing about this expedition, though. It seems that on the very first day, Dr. Charlie Veron was able to identify a brand new species of coral. With the reef diminishing so much over the years, new life isn’t something you typically expect to find in this region. However, the voyage proved that there are still positive things happening on the Australian coast, even with so much destruction out there.
The future of the expedition
This was the first expedition of its kind, but if things go to plan, it certainly won’t be the last. The product manager for Coral Expeditions said that they’re “proud” of this voyage’s outcome, not just because of the incredible discovery. The trip was able to combine “deeply meaningful science projects” with the vacation experience you might yearn for on a cruise. The ability to “seamlessly” blend the two things means the future is bright for future expeditions, and rightfully so. Around $30,000 was donated from the trip to the Great Barrier Reef Legacy Living Biobank Project, for which those coral samples were obtained. That money will do great things for the conservation efforts, although more can always be done. Thankfully, if these expeditions become an annual occurrence, that’s exactly what they’ll achieve.
Given all the bad news you tend to hear with the Great Barrier Reef at the moment, this bit of good news is highly appreciated. It doesn’t change the threat that the ecosystem continues to face every day. However, it does prove that good things are happening to turn things around for the reef.