Last week saw a speed-dating event with a difference. Hosted by the Australian Maritime Museum for National Science week, Be an Underwater Hero assembled marine conservationists and supporters actively making a difference to our marine environments.
It was inspiring to spend the evening learning from others’ firsthand experience trying to save the reef, particularly following the success of our Draw A Line reef campaign with WWF, which saw over half a million supporters sign up to protect the reef.
Unlike most events, the format invited participants to drive the conversation for 10 minutes at a time before moving on to the next key speaker. The four key speakers included,
- John Rumney, a marine conservationist who runs a tourist reef trip that includes the unique experience of swimming with dwarf minke whales on the outer reef. Having pretty much lived on the reef for 30 years, he and his wife witnessed the changes to the reef first hand and decided to start a research program, Great Barrier Reef Legacy, to encourage young people with an interest in the reef to come and conduct research, volunteer and try to make a difference to the condition of the reef. John was a firm believer in the need for Commercial Conservation and that commercial ventures at the reef were needed to keep it alive.
- Dr. Adriana Verges, a marine scientist and specializes in algal forests and seagrass meadows, and is running a program to reintroduce crayweed back to the Sydney coastline following its disappearance in the 80’s. Along with her students at UNSW, she continues to conduct research into the affects of climate change on the ocean environment.
- Lloyd Godson, also a marine scientist who has run experiments that saw him literally living underwater. He is the world record holder for the most electricity generated by pedaling underwater. Lloyd has been working with schools to encourage students to consider marine sciences as a vocation and worked with students to develop the prototype for his next underwater living project.
- Laura Wells, a model and co-founder of Oceans Ambassadors Australia and spoke about their current project to fly a single engine aircraft from Sydney to London fuelled by plastic waste.
There are so many people committed to changing the fate of the reef, and it’s inspiring and reassuring to see their dedication. Pledge your support for the reef at reef.wwf.org.au