Why You Should Visit the Great Barrier Reef Now
The Great Barrier Reef is one of the world’s natural wonders, renowned not only for it’s sheer size but also for the diversity of its marine life. However, the future of this global icon is far from certain so if it’s on your bucket list you should make an effort to visit the Great Barrier Reef sooner rather than later.
Since a major coral bleaching event hit the international headlines in early 2016 many tourists have been left wondering whether it is still worth visiting the Great Barrier Reef.
Despite the negative publicity the reality is that it is still very much open for business and there are several very good reasons why you should make sure you see it sooner rather than later.
it is huge
The Great Barrier Reef is so huge (2300 kms long) that there are many areas not affected by extensive coral bleaching that you can still visit.
Just to put things in perspective, only about 3% of the reef is affected by tourism and those areas most heavily visited by tourists were not affected by the coral bleaching in 2016.
If you look on a map, one of the worst affected areas is around Lizard Island, previously one of the best spots for diving.
The further north you go the less coastal development there is and so, up until the coral bleaching, this is where more experienced divers would go to see some of the most pristine areas of the reef.
The fact that the most pristine areas of the Great Barrier Reef have suffered such extensive coral bleaching is a tragedy but on the plus side these are not the areas where most tourists go.
it is still amazing
Admittedly David Attenborough did say that he noticed the reef had declined since his first visit over 50 years ago and most divers who’ve been diving the reef for many years will say the same thing.
However, your average punter who rarely swims out in the ocean will not notice any difference. Unless you are a long time regular visitor you will still think it is awesome, amazing, beautiful and one of the best things you’ve ever experienced in your life.
I have visited the reef from Cairns several times over the last 20 years and after a visit this week I was still captivated. My partner, who used to be a dive instructor here in the 90’s, also thought the reefs we visited were in reasonably good shape.
Of course, if you’re planning a dive trip, you should do your research and ask about what reefs each operator goes to and what the current state of health is of those reefs but most dive operators will want to take you to the best reefs to ensure you get a great experience.
While it is sad that most of us won’t notice the changes taking place, on the upside, happy tourists are a great opportunity to inspire and educate visitors about what they and their country need to be doing to save it.
the future is uncertain
Climate change is a major threat to the future survival of the Great Barrier Reef and unless government’s around the world get serious about committing to climate action, the Great Barrier Reef is living on borrowed time.
Corals are very sensitive to fluctuations in temperature and if sea temperatures continue to increase, more coral bleaching is inevitable.
Coral bleaching itself is nothing new and in the past reefs have been able to recover over time. However, the issue with climate change and global warming is that the reef is not getting sufficient recovery time between bleaching events.
see it now
It really is one of the world’s natural wonders and since there are no guarantees about how long it will be survive it would be wise to enjoy it now while you can.
Photo credits: Tourism Tropical North Queensland, Tourism and Events Queensland, Steve Whitehead