december memories / 30


30th December, 1962 : One of the natural wonders of the world, the Great Barrier Reef, is under attack. The enemy is an unprepossesing-looking creature, but deadly for the thousands of miles of living coral it consumes. Scientists are now examining the Crown of Thorns starfish, which was earlier this year found to feed off the coral. At this stage, little is known about the starfish and the extent to which it infests the reef. It appears to be prevalent in an area stretching from Cairns south to Townsville, but given the distances involved and the lack of money to investigate the problem, no one can be certain how much damage has been done.

[Over the past four decades, hardly a year has passed without some dire threat to the Great Barrier Reef being proclaimed. Crown-of-thorns starfish, over-fishing, tourism, anchor damage, pesticides, fertilizer, cattle, cane, oil shale, coastal development, roads, marinas, shipping, global warming and sundry other menaces have repeatedly been declared to threaten the reef, and “experts” cited in support. None of these things has ever been dealt with in any effective manner, yet the reef remains much as it has always been. Credibility, however, never seems lacking for another threat nor for more expert opinions.

Although reefs in many other parts of the world have indeed been damaged by human activities, the Great Barrier Reef is among the most pristine of reef areas. Distance, weather and a relatively small population mean most of the reef is rarely ever visited. Of the 2,900 reefs in the complex, only a few dozen are regularly used for tourism and the total annual fish harvest per km 2 is less than one per cent of what reefs elsewhere commonly sustain. Solutions appropriate to the problems of heavily-impacted reefs are uncalled for and may even have undesirable consequences here…” Read more]

About Avadoro Worden

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