Life at UCB through the eyes of our student bloggers

The Great Barrier Reef Effect

The Great Barrier Reef Effect

First of all happy new year guys!! I hope you enjoyed the Christmas break and I wish you a happy, successful and wonderful 2016!

Over the holidays there’s been some awesome things on t.v, but the one thing I’d been most excited to watch is ‘The Great Barrier Reef’ with David Attenborough. Now I absolutely love Sir David A. For a girl passionate about wildlife, nature and our beautiful planet, he is the ultimate role model and I find him one of the most interesting people in the world. So David if you ever read this, lets have tea?  Like most people, I find his work extraordinary and I’d be content watching his films all day long in my pj’s with a cuppa tea. Out of all the documentaries over Christmas, his latest series is what I’ve been most eager to see and what I’ve enjoyed the most!

I’ve been fascinated by the Great Barrier Reef ever since I was little, I remember seeing it in a brochure or magazine and falling in love, (although I think Finding Nemo helped a little too – its one of my favourite films)!

I’m sure a lot of people have snorkelling, diving and visiting some of the hundreds of islands in the GBR, at the top of their bucket lists, and two years ago when I was travelling in Australia, I was fortunate enough to check it off mine and see with my own eyes, small areas of this beautiful, natural wonder of the world! I say small areas because the GBR is huge. I mean massively huge! It stretches over 1400 miles alongside the state of Queensland on the East Coast of Australia. It’s easily the largest coral reef ecosystem on the planet and can even be seen from space! Like a lot of tourists keen to explore the reef, I took a trip out on a boat leaving from the town of Cairns in Northern Queensland and also while I was in Airlie Beach on a raft around the Whitsunday Islands (7 hours further down the coastline from Cairns). I keep journals when I travel and my entries from the days at the reef are filled with typical girl screaming with excitement kinda notes;

 OMG! It’s so beautiful! Hope I don’t get stung by a box jellyfish! I saw a turtle!! Best day ever,best day ever. I hope this is not a dream!!

Having the chance to visit the reef felt like I’d won the lottery. Even now I still can’t believe how lucky I am to have been somewhere so magical and swim alongside the inhabitants who make the reef their home. The GBR is so special to me, and it has impacted my whole education as a result. I was naive about the ecosystem before I visited, I just wanted to see the marine life, beautiful coral cays, and feel in awe at what I would see beneath the surface. The boats that take you on the trips provide you with so much info about the species of fish, plants, coral and animals to the specific to the areas of the reef that you visit so you walk away having learnt a few things.


Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…

Witnessing the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, and knowing how huge it is, it was easy enough for me to believe it will be here forever. But it wasn’t until I returned home and started to research more about how little I had seen, and discovered the threats to the reef and the life within it. It made me feel something that I can only describe as compassion as the reef is that special to me (despite the fact I live thousands of miles away and have only visited it twice). My love affair for the reef and marine life in general made me realised how necessary it is to to learn about the importance of protecting beautiful ecosystems, world wonders and wildlife.


Climate change is undeniably the biggest threat to the GBR. Coral bleaching as a result of changing temperatures has already been witnessed in the last 20 years!! This, along with rising sea levels and extreme tropical storms due to global warming, could potentially cause catastrophic damage to the reef and all its wonderful animals, rainforests and islands, in the VERY near future. It’s not just climate change that is a potential threat either, being aware of ecological issues are certainly something that any tourist and tour operator should be aware of before visiting the GBR. Dive boats are capable of breaking parts of coral when anchoring, tourists have been known to break off bits of coral as souvenirs and there has been damage to coral from tourists walking on them and kicking away parts –  not cool! It’s impossible to put into words what the GBR is like, its like another world entirely and the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen but there needs to be more emphasis on educating the thousands of tourists who visit every year.

The GBR is what kickstarted my passion for responsible tourism and has been aided from things I’ve learn in my studies. The beautiful ecosystem boosted my desire to learn once I encountered it in real life. Now, I only desire to continue learning about environmental impacts, sustainability and responsible tourism. Not to just for the GBR but also other natural wonders, polar ice caps, the oceans, historical cities, wildlife, people and cultures that make up our world. There are so many places and species that are endangered, the world is changing and its scary to think many risk never existing again if things continue the way they are! We need to be more educated about this… As a tourism student and life learner, not only do I want to see as many places of these places with my own eyes, but I long to promote these kind of issues, help educate others to learn about the impacts, and inspire them to do the same…

AND… I have the most amazing opportunity to do this!

On my last post before the holidays, I briefly told you guys that I’d been selected along with 30 other students to go to Tenerife to be a volunteer with the Atlantic Whale Foundation!! Part of being a volunteer includes being a research guide on tourist whale watching boats. Not only do we have the chance to research the marine life encountered, but we have the opportunity to engage with tourists and educate them about the marine life around Tenerife, and about ecological issues that are being faced here all the time, including what they can do to help. I’m sooo happy, I’ve never been as excited for a work/volunteer/education project and I’ll definitely be filling you in about how its going while I’m out there!


View of the GBR from above – The Mirror

I don’t want to spoil the David Attenborough Great Barrier Reef series for anyone, and the last episode is aired on Wednesday night at 9pm on BBC One. If you haven’t got to chance to watch it, I would 100% recommend catching up on it. The series is extremely insightful, educational, cute, beautiful, a little emotional and just well worth the watch!

If you’ve been to the GBR or seen the documentary let me know what you think?

Good luck if you have any exams over the next week!

D x

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