Posted by: Juweon | March 16, 2009

The Research Trip

With today’s post, I wanted to focus on the environmental aspects of the Great Barrier Reef, because honestly, I think there are a lot more opportunities to promote the tourism aspect.  (The environment needs some lovin’, actually lots of lovin’)

I actually took this research trip the first weekend after I found out that I made the final 50, but due to time constraints and my current day job, I didn’t have time to put this video together.

First, take a look at the video below.

As you can see, I do have a special place in my heart for the environment but I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t do all that I can to back up my talk.  So I guess that makes me a sort of a hypocrite.  I am ashamed to admit that I drive to work everyday, eventhough there’s a great public transportation system in Seoul.  We tend to get into routines, and I know that if I get ready about 45 minutes earlier, I can get to all the places that I need to without my car, but our habits and routines are so hard to break.  I want to change that.  I want to kick the environmentally bad habits and I think this is another reason why I think this job means so much to me.

I think having this job will allow me a unique opportunity to experience one of the most beautiful yet threatened places in the world so I can better understand the delicate issues surrounding the protection of marine environments like the Great Barrier Reef.  I know there are many other areas in the world that need protecting and saving but the Great Barrier Reef is as great a place to start as any.  The position of island caretaker, due to the worldwide interest the campaign has received, would also provide a great channel to bring these issues to the spotlight.

Here are some other factoids about the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) that I found out during this “research trip.”

As I mentioned in the video, the GBR can be thought of as the tropical rainforest of the ocean.  It’s biodiversity is so immense and some scientists actually think that the rate of “primary production” in the coral reefs systems actually EXCEEDS that of the tropical rainforests.

Autotrophs are provide energy for all other organisms that follow it.

Autotrophs are provide energy for all other organisms that follow it.

What is primary production?  It’s the production of new organic matter by autotrophs, which are basically plants and other organisms that are self-sufficient (auto=self, trophs = eating/feeding).

The coral reef system is very SENSITIVE.  It needs just the right amount of all the factors to keep its unique ecosystem running smoothly.

It needs a stable salinity level above 27%, that’s why fresh water run-off is so deadly and you would only see kelp next to areas on the coast where there’s a heavy fresh water runoff.

Other than global warming, there are many other man-made causes contributing to the further decline of the coral reefs system, such as chemical and oil spills, farming runoffs and questionable fishing techniques, among others.  Even tropical storms, like Cyclone Hamish that was recently experienced by the Queensland region can have a negative affect because storm waves can rip up the coral bed.  The frequency of these “super storms” has also increased as global warming and climate change becomes more evident.

Now here’s the picture of the sea temperature model I put in the video.

Go check out this link for more info.  As you can see, according to this model from UNEP, the Great Barrier Reef is going to be affected by increases in sea temperatures, it’s now just a matter of how much, and that’s where we can make a difference.

Going back to the analogy of the coral reefs being the tropical rain-forests of the sea… when we see aerial photos of logging devastating our forests, we experience a certain emotion of shock and awe and we realize something really environmentally bad has happened, but I think when we come to see images of coral bleaching, we still lack that shock to a certain extent and I think that’s the result of a lack of awareness.

When we see something like this:

we should have the same reaction as if we just saw this:

Yes, I understand that my job, if I win it, would be basically a promoter of the Great Barrier Reef region.  Convince people to come and spend their vacations doing the activities that I will share with the world.  But nobody said I couldn’t try to hit two birds with one stone.  I think if I only promote the tourism aspect of the region while neglecting the more pressing issue of the environment, I would be doing a disservice not only to Tourism Queensland, but also to the entire country of Australia and the whole world.

Don’t forget to VOTE!!!


  1. This is NOT gonna get people to vote, Al Gore…

  2. wow…i wish my classes in school were like this video~ I think I might have actually learned something!!!!!! 편집 잘했다~ 멋있네~

  3. Great blog posts, lots of detail. Thanks so much for commenting on mine! If you get a chance, we would love to hear from you over at the Island Reef Forum:

    There’s only so much you can say in those 60 seconds and that’s made it hard for a lot of people to pick who to vote for. But we can vote every 24 hours so the more we learn about different applicants, the more we’re spreading the votes 😉

    Good luck!!

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