The Great Barrier Reef has hit rock bottom. Meet the crew piecing it back together

The Great Barrier Reef has hit rock bottom. Meet the crew piecing it back together

Celebrate World Wildlife Day with Dr Vic Cockcroft, who has dedicated his life to the study and protection of our ocean’s majestic dugongs.

Beautiful News - March 2021 1
Supplied, Beautiful News

Off the coast of Queensland, Australia, the searing sun pierces the water, revealing a vibrant coral community. Although illuminating, this beam of light is deadly. The Great Barrier Reef was once an underwater utopia where anemones danced and dugongs grazed. Now, it’s crumbling. But Russell Hosp and his crew are picking up the pieces and restoring life to this natural wonder. 

The Great Barrier Reef is a motley of over 3 000 coral reef systems. The largest living structure on Earth, it supports an abundance of marine life. From leatherback turtles and white-tip reef sharks to technicoloured parrot fish, thousands of species call this coastal paradise home. “It’s an ecosystem containing some of the planet's most amazing biodiversity,” Hosp says. Yet, as the Earth warms, so do the oceans. When water overheats, coral is placed under unnatural stress, causing it to expel its algae and turn completely white. Although the bleaching may not kill the coral immediately, it renders them vulnerable to disease, affects their ability to reproduce, and in severe cases, destroys masses at a time. 

As the environmental manager for dive centre Passions for Paradise, Hosp witnessed the gradual deterioration of this rich ecosystem. Determined to revive it, he joined local researchers to assist with the Coral Nurture Program. The team collects fragments of healthy coral that have fallen off the reef naturally and plants them in a nursery on site. As they grow, they are broken into smaller parts and reattached to the reef using specialised clips. “Given enough time and the right circumstances, the corals can make a full recovery,” Hosp says.

Now a year into their project, his team has successfully planted over 1 000 pieces of coral and have no plans of stopping. “Taking care of our ocean is taking care of our future,” Hosp says. Their commitment to the Great Barrier Reef is giving the world hope that this remarkable habitat will live on. “When we work with our environment, wonderful things can happen,” Hosp says. 

Footage by Passions of Paradise was used in the creation of this film.

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