Disney has some pretty good logic – life is better under the sea! There’s so much life to observe living underneath the clear water encapsulating the Great Barrier Reef. Without stepping foot in the water you can encounter stingrays, sharks, turtles, dolphins, and a variety of birds that add so much to the atmosphere (mainly, their nonstop chatter and guano). But when you take one peak under the surface, you find a world unimaginable, and much of it is unknown. The variety of coral, fishes and assorted aquatic life are innumerable; it is not only the sheer quantity that is breathtaking, but also the magnitude of color expressed throughout the reef. So much life is supported on the Great Barrier Reef, and as we were reminded today, our daily actions influence its survival. At the Heron Island Research Station, studies are being performed on the effects of varying CO2 and pH balance in the water column. We took a blast to the past when we were shown a tank with coral reef organisms living in what would have been the circumstances from 100 years ago. Then, all too suddenly, we were shown the disheartening “do something” and “do nothing” tanks. Basically, the tanks were each a representation of 80-100 years in the future. One scenario displayed the situation if humans worked to change their effects on the environment and the other displayed what would happen if humans continued to live as they presently do. Both scenarios were discouraging as the coral life in the tanks exhibited coral bleaching effects and in some cases death… certainly nowhere near the beauty that is seen on the reef today! As we enjoy our time on Heron Island I hope more and more that its splendor, life, and immensity never diminishes.
Senior Biology Major
*Happy 22nd Birthday Tanya!*