I don’t think he has ever been there – not once. But he has an opinion about the Great Barrier Reef. Last time I looked more than 111K of his followers (after just a few hours of it being being posted) were regurgitating the nonsense message that, of course, the Great Barrier Reef is stuffed, and, of course, Peter Ridd is a stooge of the sugar cane farmers — and also big tobacco. There are hundreds of congratulatory comments, following this short YouTube, confirming, what I already knew, that most of us here in Australia have become useful idiots. In political jargon, a useful idiot is a term used to reference a person perceived as propagandising for a cause—particularly a bad cause.
Too many Australians, whether young or old, voting Labor, Greens, Liberal or Teal, are mostly abrogating their capacity for reason in favour of being fashionable. It doesn’t have to be this way. It could be different, especially if the Jordan Shanks amongst us took a little bit of time to check their facts first. Nobody much does that anymore.
I sent Jordan Shanks the following short note by email yesterday.
Dear Friendly Jordie,
I’ve just watched your episode about the Riddler and the Reef. I was hoping to see you in the water with some corals.
[I should have written with some sharks.]
What about you come see, with me? We could visit the epicentre of the most recent mass coral bleaching, John Brewer Reef. We could go snorkelling together, over the reef crest. You could see for yourself, the state it is in.
It was reported by Graham Readfearn in The Guardian as the worst of the worst bleached, and then there were the official aerial surveys that also reported on the bleaching. Last year, there was even the United Nation’s UNESCO people who visited – but not John Brewer Reef. They said it was all dead and dying.
But guess what: the assessment team never actually visited any of the reefs that were reported as bleached/dead and dying. The experts relied for their stories about the bleaching from the flybys that score the state of the corals out an aeroplane window from an altitude of 150 metres.
I’ve tried that. You can’t see much. To know the state of the corals you need to get in and under-the-water. Come see, with me.
I’ve been out to John Brewer a few times and under-the-water, and even made a short under-water documentary film showing the corals up close.
You can watch the film here, https://vimeo.com/775205373
But, of course, it is never the same as seeing with your own eyes.
Friendly Jordie, if you come see with me, I can also show you the remains of the corals that have been wilfully destroyed – by the fishes. The hungry fishes that eat all the best corals.
You probably didn’t know that one Humphead parrot fish will eat about six tonnes of coral in a year. Out at John Brewer reef they prefer the corals that have been newly replanted with all the government monies. So, those fishes, they are costing the Australian taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars each year, eating the corals that you and I have paid to have replanted. There is another and bigger story in all of that, for sure.
You mentioned the old corals, the 500-year-old corals, in your Riddler Ridd episode.
It was during the lockdowns in November 2020 that my dear friend, the late Rob McCulloch – phoned me, crying into his beer. He was devastated as he had a charter to pay that he had secured for Marlin fishermen and for ET (Andrew Ettiingshause) who has that TV show. But ET couldn’t get across the border into Queensland because of the lockdowns.
I suggested instead, that Rob take me out for a week looking for Porites – those 500 year old corals that are reported to all be dead because the reef is stuffed. You know the story, the popular narrative.
To be clear, the Porites are the massive, ancient bolder corals, some as big as minibuses, that have growth rings like tree rings faithfully recording the climate history of the oceans.
Well they used to. As the story goes.
I wanted to go all the way out to Myrmidon Reef, because that is where the scientists used to go on really big ships to core the really, really old Porites.
We went for a week. Dennis, Wizzy, Shaun, Stuart, me and the Skipper – Rob. [You can see us here, on the back of the Marlin fishing boat, Kiama.]
I am grateful for that experience. The adventure was funded by the B.Macfie Family Foundation through the Institute of Public Affairs after I put a phone call through to John Roskam. He took a risk, and believed in me when I said this was the opportunity of a lifetime.
I made a film about that adventure, and it even includes Riddles Ridd — as you call him.
You can watch ‘Finding Porites’ here: https://vimeo.com/766755037
We found a whole garden of Porites, under-the-water. It was the white-tipped reef shark that showed us the way. In the end.
You should come visit us here in Queensland, at the Great Barrier Reef and see some corals and the coral munching fishes and I’ve been trying for some years now to get the experts at the Australian Institute of Marine Science to sit down in front of a camera and answer some questions about the flybys and the bleaching. I have been wanting to ask them how they reconcile the extraordinary beauty and resilience of John Brewer Reef with their nonsense maps — devoid of evidence or even photographs. How they reconcile their claims of mass coral bleaching with all the colourful fishes and corals that I can see under-the-water.
Maybe, if you, Jordan Shanks, come, they will come, we can all go. Together. Even with Riddles Ridd. To John Brewer Reef, the epicentre of the most recent much acclaimed sixth mass coral bleaching.
We could maybe flyby and then, the next day, go under-the-water, or at least snorkel over the reef crest.
Cheers, Friendly Jennie
The feature image is by Toby, and shows a school of Humphead parrot fish. These are coraliferous fish; with each Humphead eating about 6 tonnes of coral each year — a school of them (typically they hang around in groups of 30) eat about as much coral as all the coral that is replanted at great expense each year to Australian taxpayers.