Turtles and The Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef Snorkel

Floating along the Coral Sea near the coast of Cairns, Australia in a full body wet suit, I watch as a big lipped fish tears a great big piece of coral off The Great Barrier Reef and starts munching on it.

From my vantage point at the surface–ears under water and snorkel mask tight to my face–the sound of the fish chewing makes it through the water. To me, it sounds like someone munching on a bag of Doritos.

Watching this giant fish cause destruction to the already damaged reef made me laugh due to the comical nature of the sounds that ensued. What didn’t make me laugh was the group of tourists who got stuck in a shallow area of the reef. They stood on the near endangered coral as our guides whistled at them to get off the reef.

This happened multiple times during our only two hour tour, which led me to believe that this no doubt happens every day, all day, all along the 2,300 kilometre stretch of over 2,900 reefs.

Many people ask me if I saw Nemo during this excursion to the reef. I am not in possession of a Scuba license of any kind, so my tour was purely of the snorkelling variety. I’m not sure if this impacted the quality of coral I was able to see, but I not only didn’t see Nemo, it was very clear that the reef as exemplified in the vibrant Disney edition of the Great Barrier Reef was not quite the same in this tourist riddled area.

The World Wildlife Fund has recently released an incredible video from a Go Pro strapped to a sea turtle’s back.

The video provides an interesting glimpse into the wild-life sans snorkel strapped tourist (like myself) and also brings attention to UNESCO’s decision not to put The Great Barrier Reef on it’s endangered list. They instead gave Australia a deadline of December 2016 to come up with a plan to solve it’s problems in over fishing, dumping and make it a safe home for the 400 types of coral, 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of mollusc that make it so incredible.

It will be interesting to see what kind of plan the Australian government comes up with. I will definitely be following this story as it unfolds and gains even more attention from this WWF video. Will this be the camera that broke the turtles back?

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