Coral reef ecologist Mike Emslie from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) recently told RMIT University FactLab that their most recent survey of John Brewer reef showed coral cover to be just 21.8% and the impact of coral bleaching was major to severe.
Anyone would think that the Great Barrier Reef was dying.
Those were the headlines back in March when United Nation’s experts jetted into Australia to assess the state of the Great Barrier Reef. It was widely reported back then that John Brewer Reef was the centre of a sixth mass coral bleaching.
So, I went to see for myself.
It is impossible to know the health of the corals from an altitude of 120 metres.
The Emperor’s New Clothes is a literary folktale about two swindlers who sell a vain emperor imaginary clothes insisting that anyone who can’t see the invisible cloth is stupid or incompetent.
The article by Eiddwen Jeffery quoting Mike Emslie suggests I am incompetent because I swam around the reef – as though I should have undertaken a proper survey perhaps by looking out an aeroplane window from 150 metres distance.
The Emperor’s New Clothes has become a metaphor for collective denial and hollow ostentatiousness and pretence. As such it perhaps perfectly describes the absurdity of claims by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and Australian Institute of Marine Sciences (AIMS) that the world should lament severe bleaching including at John Brewer Reef. Their surveys did involve looking out an aeroplane window from an altitude of 150 metres to score the health of the corals, perhaps as a genuflect to the United Nations.
Then there is the expression: None so blind as those who will not see. I know that they know the Great Barrier Reef is still so beautiful, especially close-up. So, they undertake their surveys from a great distance.
I’ve seen soft corals just like this one from the air, with my drone, and they have looked very pale and very bleached. I made a film about exactly this, contrasting the appearance of such corals from under the water to way up in the air. That was one of my very first films shot from a very tiny boat and its called Rose Reef, you can watch it on Vimeo if you click here.
You can read part 1 of this series, by clicking here.