Nurturing Conservation of the Great Barrier Reef

How Wavelength Cruises have adapted to reef conservation

Simon Mustoe

Simon Mustoe

Writer, photographer and founder of Wildiaries

Wavelength cruises are specialists in reef snorkelling. Based in Port Douglas, Jenny and John took the business over from a marine biologist who originally set it up with a number of excellent shallow-water sites. Chosen specifically for snorkellers, they have lots of diversity and clear water.

The sites have fared well through the terrible coral bleaching events of 2016/2017, which Jenny describes as “quite shocking and depressing”.

But with a background in aquaculture, commercial fishing and diving, they decided to do something positive and set up the Coral Nurture Program alongside Dave Suggett and Dr Emma Camp at University of Technology Sydney, Future Reefs Program.

Coral is grown on nurseries, suspended in mid-water, using readily-available materials. Permits to collect wild corals allows the team to grow and transplant fast-growing plate corals and the like, while the scientists study their genetics to work out what traits allow corals to be heat tolerant.

“You break up a colony and then you can spread that out over the frame and over about 18 months, grow a whole section of new colonies and at some later date, attach them to the reef”, says Jenny.

The results have been quite phenomenal. Parrotfish learn to graze the algae, meaning the frames don’t have to be cleaned by hand and after putting corals out, about 90% survive. The result is, that many of the sites Wavelength visit, have a noticeable increase in hard coral cover.

The costs of rehabilitating damaged reef are vastly higher than preventing damage in the first place. However, if improvements can be made to the efficiency and cost effectiveness of coral propagation, it can potentially be useful on a local scale and also important in researching coral resilience and adaptation.

The small groups who visit the reef with Jenny and her marine biologist crews, get to enjoy a more intimate experience than normal, while contributing something back. The business is also strongly focused on carbon and waste reduction, offering visitors one of the most sustainable options, as well as a unique experience.

“The biggest thing we tell people is to take things nice and slowly”, says Jenny, “if you go to an art gallery, you don’t bomb around, you mosey about, poke into the corners and appreciate things. With time, you can watch behaviours and pick out things you would have otherwise missed”.

Anyone who joins a trip will be in the company of qualified marine biologists to discuss the fascinating things there are to see and reveal the awesome beauty and diversity of the reef.

Watch our interview with Jenny from Wavelength Cruises

About the Author
Simon Mustoe

Simon Mustoe

Writer, photographer and founder of Wildiaries

Simon is CEO of DeluxeLife. He is also an ardent conservationist and has been studying and observing wildlife for over 40 years. He's written a book called Wildlife in the Balance. He loves taking his worldwide travel experience to help people discover new and exciting places to visit,as well as contributing to science and conservation.

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