The Great Barrier Reef is spectacular and most of us would immediately visualise its azure waters and the kaleidoscopic colours of coral reefs. However, islands are often not fully recognized as being a critical part of this reef ecosystem. Indeed, many iconic reef species such as marine turtles and seabirds simply could not continue to survive without their island breeding grounds. Conservation of island ecosystems is critical to the long-term management of these and many other species within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
As part of a World Heritage Area, the Great Barrier Reef Islands deserve our very best management efforts. Unfortunately, significant threats are still acting on these ecosystems. Marine debris, particularly plastic bags, discarded netting and rope easily entangle marine turtles and seabirds, and those same bags and smaller plastic pieces are often eaten, being mistaken for food. The results are catastrophic. Breeding areas remain subject to the ravages of invasive weeds that modify, for the worst, entire ecosystems. In some cases, other threats such as climate change are almost certainly having an impact on seabirds and marine turtles, but we do not yet understand this well enough to make the appropriate management interventions that might reduce these impacts.
To find out more about our work in the Great Barrier Reef Islands watch the footage from ABC News in North Queensland. A team from ABC news join us on Gloucester Island to document our work and the experiences of our participants.
What are we doing?
WildMob is working side by side with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service who provide us with valuable resources through their Friends of Parks program, and with the wonderful support of our colleagues at Reef Catchments, to remove marine debris from important breeding areas, to help undertake research into seabirds and migratory shorebirds, and to control weeds in key coastal habitats such as within critically endangered areas of beach rainforest.
We are also very conscious that we need to help younger generations take up these challenges in the future. A key part of our GBR island program is to ensure that High School Marine Science students have the opportunity each year to visit the islands and reef, fostering young people to take up a career in managing this incredible ecosystem. We are supported here also by Mackay Regional Council and Central Queensland University.
What can you do?
We’ve got some incredible work happening on a bunch of beautiful islands. Come on a Wild Mob trip and visit the Great Barrier Reef. Be awed by its beauty and do your bit to keep it spectacular.
There are hundreds and hundreds of islands out there, all needing a helping hand. That takes resources. Don’t have the time to volunteer? Consider helping us out with a donation. Because our overheads are already covered, every cent of every donation can go directly to on-ground conservation work.
Of course, critically important is getting the message out, the world needs to know what wonderful opportunities are possible for the Great Barrier Reef islands. Let your friends, colleagues and community know all about it, help us build an army of champions for our beautiful islands.