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Environment, Science

“MOST RESEARCH SITES ARE BLEACHED DOWN TO SIX METRES” The Southern Great Barrier Reef has been cooked by an “underwater bushfire”, and the marine heatwave is causing coral reefs to bleach across the entire ecosystem.

CMC 5 mins read

There have been four mass coral bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef in the past eight years - scientists tell us this kind of stress means species don’t have enough time to recover, fundamentally changing the reef and its biodiversity

 

The current marine heatwaves have caused swathes of the Southern Great Barrier reef to bleach, and the ominous marine forecasts for the coming weeks has almost the entire ecosystem in the highest alert level for another mass bleaching event. Climate pollution from burning fossil fuels is warming our planet, and with over 90% of atmospheric heat being absorbed by our oceans, severe marine heatwaves are pushing our oceans life support systems to the brink - the Reef bleaching so frequently is a canary in the coal mine for the entire planet, and the fate of this essential ecosystem foreshadows our own fate in the coming years. 

 

LINKS TO CURRENT BLEACHING VISION

Southern GBR

Hervey Bay: Must credit Hervey Bay CoralWatch

Heron Island: Must credit Divers for Climate

Northern GBR:

Port Douglas/Cairns: BEFORE VISION (Oct 2023) & AFTER VISION (Feb 2024)

Far North GBR:

Lizard Island: CoralWatch FNQ

 

Australia’s leading reef experts are available for interview: 

 

Dr Ove Hoegh-Guldberg - Professor of Marine Studies at the University of Queensland

Ove was Founding Director of the Global Change Institute and Centre for Excellence in Coral Reef Studies, and Affiliated Professor in Tropical Marine Biology at the University of Copenhagen. Ove’s research focuses on the impacts of global change on marine ecosystems and is one of the most cited authors on climate change. Ove has had a 20-year history in leading research organisations such as the Centre for Marine Studies (including 3 major research stations over 2000-2009) and the Global Change Institute. He was one of the first scientists to identify the serious threat posed by climate change for coral reefs in a landmark paper published in 1999, which predicted the loss of coral reefs by 2050. 

Location: Brisbane, Heron Island

 

Dr Stuart Kininmonth - University of Queensland, Manager Heron Island Research Station

Dr Kininmonth is a marine ecologist with over 20 years of field experience in marine and coral reef ecology. His research focuses on the complex interplay between social and natural systems, and explores the role of networks in the ecology and conservation planning of coral reefs. He has published 58 peer reviewed articles and book chapters. He has managed the Heron Island Research Station for four years, and is currently diving and reporting on the wide scale bleaching event occuring in the Southern Great Barrier Reef. 

Location: Heron Island.

 

Dr Jodie Rummer, Professor of Marine biology at James Cook University. 

Dr Rummer's specialty is coral reef fishes, including sharks and rays, and she can talk about the impacts of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef; she can discuss how climate pollution from burning fossil fuel is warming our oceans, and how an increase in ocean temperatures is affecting the Great Barrier Reef’s biodiversity. 

Location: Townsville, QLD

 

Tony Fontes, veteran Great Barrier Reef dive operator. 

Tony can talk about the local tourism industry, about his 40-plus years’ experience diving on the Great Barrier Reef, and share first-hand accounts of the climate impacts he has witnessed over the many years that he has worked on the Reef.  

Location: Whitsundays, QLD

 

Dr Selina Ward, The University of Queensland. 

Dr Ward is an expert in the response of corals to environmental stress, the effects of bleaching on coral reproduction and the recovery process of corals following bleaching. Selina is also a board member of AMCS. 

Location: Brisbane. 

 

Dr Lissa Schindler, Great Barrier Reef Manager, Australian Marine Conservation Society

Lissa is a marine ecologist who has over a decade experience working on the threats that impact the Great Barrier Reef. She has worked in coral reef conservation both in Australia and overseas and can speak to the impacts of bleaching as well as the solutions for the Reef and the current concerns of the World Heritage Committee. 

Location: Brisbane, QLD

 

Prof Daniel Gschwind, Griffith University - Griffith Institute for Tourism  

Daniel was the CEO of Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) from 2001 to 2022, representing the industry in numerous global committees and forums. He is the Chair of Trade and Investment Queensland (TIQ), the Chair of the Tourism Reef Advisory Committee of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), the Chair of Queensland Music Trails, and a Director and founding member of the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre (RRRC) and a Director of Tourism Whitsundays.

Location: Brisbane, QLD

 

Dr Emma Camp, University of Technology, Team Leader of the Future Reefs Team 

Dr Camp’s research ranges from organism scale molecular signatures to broad scale ecological interactions, and she specialises in advancing technical solutions to support innovative scientific capacity to help preserve and re-build “healthy reefs”. Her research focuses on the physiology, ecology and biogeochemistry of coral reefs, and she was a co-founder of the Coral Nurture Program, a new approach for caring for the Great Barrier Reef initiated by a partnership between tourism and science. 

Location: Sydney. 

 

Yolanda Waters, Founder Divers for Climate

Yolanda is a dive instructor turned marine social scientist at the University of Queensland and Founder of community-led initiative Divers for Climate. She has completed a PhD in climate change communication which explores the diverse connections between people and iconic places like the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), and the extent to which the GBR and GBR tourism can help strengthen public engagement with climate change. Yolanda has surveyed and interviewed thousands of Australians, including tourism operators and visitors across the Great Barrier Reef, about their perceptions of climate threats and actions, discovering that the GBR is a powerful tool to motivate complex conversations around climate action. Divers for Climate and the Undertow Media are currently producing a film that captures stories across the Australian dive community who are currently witnessing the impacts of climate change firsthand, including the coral bleaching event currently unfolding on the Great Barrier Reef.

Location: Brisbane/Cairns, QLD

 

Diana Kleine, CoralWatch Project Manager 

Diana Kleine has been working for CoralWatch for 17 years. As project manager, Diana organises monitoring, education, and outreach events, designs materials that raise awareness about coral reefs, and encourages people to help save reefs from home by adopting a more sustainable lifestyle. Diana has been diving for over 30 years and learned extensively about the reef by working closely with marine scientists for the last 25 years. CoralWatch is a not-for-profit global citizen science program by The University of Queensland aiming to increase understanding of coral reefs, bleaching and climate change. Groups from all around the world collect data and help answer questions about patterns and severity of coral bleaching and how corals and reefs recover after bleaching. All data from 80 countries, and 2200 reefs is publicly available and can be downloaded. 

Location: Brisbane, QLD

 

Dr Dean Miller, Climate Council Fellow, Director of Great Barrier Reef Legacy

Dean founded a not-for-profit created to address the urgent need to secure the long-term survival of the Great Barrier Reef, and is the driving force behind a biobank which contains living samples of endangered species of hard coral from the Great Barrier Reef. Dr Miller is currently involved in research projects monitoring reef health and bleaching events, and he can talk about coral reef management and the impact of three mass bleaching events in five years.

Location: Cairns/Port Douglas, QLD


FOR INTERVIEWS: CMC media advisor Sean Kennedy: 0447 121 378 - sean.kennedy@climatemediacentre.org.au


Contact details:

Sean Kennedy: 0447 121 378 - sean.kennedy@climatemediacentre.org.au

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