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Thousands of visitors and superyachts are set to arrive on the Whitsunday coast for the annual Great Barrier Reef Festival and are looking forward to a long weekend of family fun, live music, community events, food, fireworks and more. From 5th to 8th August, Airlie Beach comes alive to celebrate the Whitsundays’ lifestyle and the communities at the heart of the Great Barrier Reef.
During the festival, the underlying theme continues to be the beloved Great Barrier Reef, and Coral Sea Academy has partnered with the festival to put on an educational workshop designed to inspire locals and visitors to protect and preserve the reef.
‘Protecting the Great Barrier Reef’ will take place on Friday 6th August at The Lookout Lounge, Coral Sea Marina. This free community event is open to anyone who is interested in hearing from climate action leaders, advocates for reef research and local master reef guides, whilst discovering what can be done to encourage the long-term health of the Great Barrier Reef.
As one of the reef’s greatest advocates, Whitsunday ‘Dive Guru’ and conservationist, Tony Fontes, will be the master of ceremonies for the workshop, and is excited to impart his own passion for reef conservation to locals and visitors to the region.
“The Great Barrier Reef remains unmatched in its beauty and diversity but it is under pressure and its health is declining”, explained Fontes. “The Reef needs your help and support to ensure that we have the greatest Reef into the future.”
Those attending the event can expect to hear from local master reef guides providing interactive sessions with a Q&A. There will also be talks from Whitsunday Climate Change Innovation Hub and representatives from non-for-profit organisation Tangaroa Blue, which is dedicated to the reduction of marine debris in Australian waters.
Heidi Tait, from Tangaroa Blue, explained how we are all able to become citizen scientists and do our bit to protect our oceans.
“Through the Australian Marine Debris Initiative and ReefClean projects, citizen scientists are invited to participate in actions that remove, collect data and collaborate on source reduction projects to support changes that improve the long-term health of our oceans.”
With millions of people accessing the Great Barrier Reef through the Whitsundays each year, it is vitally important that every one of those individuals go home with a desire to protect and conserve this international treasure. Joscelyn O’Keefe, marketing sales and services manager at Coral Sea Marina Resort, noted how important it is to instil this sense of responsibility.
“The Great Barrier Reef Festival is an ideal opportunity to connect with locals and visitors and convey the message of the real difference people can make to protecting our reef,” she explained.
“We’re excited to support the Great Barrier Reef Festival once again this year and to have the opportunity to tie in the Coral Sea Academy with the incredible work the team do with increasing awareness and passion for the conservation of the Great Barrier Reef. The Coral Sea Academy is designed to educate visitors about the reef, the environment and sustainability, so this collaboration seemed like the perfect platform through which to get this message out to the community.”
Margie Murphy, chair of the Great Barrier Reef Festival, is thrilled to see reef education through the Coral Sea Academy as part of the festival’s programme of events.
“We welcome the opportunity to showcase the different programmes we have locally that assist in reef preservation, the volunteer groups that work hard to look after our backyard and, of course, the many ways in which any visitor or local can have a positive effect on the reef,” Murphy explained.
“We are incredibly lucky to have this global icon on our doorstep and the Great Barrier Reef Festival is the perfect event in which to provide an educational experience regarding its preservation.”
Conservation volunteers will also be on hand with further information for anyone that wants to sign up to local volunteering projects or receive tips on what can be done to help protect the reef.
This is a free event open to the whole community and an invitation is extended to any visitors to the region to enjoy an educational tourism experience whilst exploring the Whitsunday region and attending the Great Barrier Reef Festival.
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