Douglas region students get involved in local actions to protect the Reef

Published: 10/09/2014

More than 50 students and teachers from six Reef Guardian Schools in the Douglas region swapped the classroom for the outdoors to investigate the biodiversity found in the coastal ecosystems of the region and how these ecosystems are linked to the Great Barrier Reef.

The day-long activities were part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s (GBRMPA) annual Future Leaders Eco Challenges that raise awareness about how activities on the land can affect the marine environment.

Future Leaders Eco Challenges are about students acting local but thinking global when it comes to addressing threats to the Reef.

Students participated in a mangrove discovery cruise along the Dicksons Inlet with the Lady Douglas vessel where they learnt about the adaptations of mangroves and the role they play as a nursery area for animals that call the Great Barrier Reef home.

GBRMPA Far Northern Regional Liaison Officer Phil Laycock said as well as providing a nursery area for animals, mangrove ecosystems capture nutrients and sediment leaving our catchments preventing these from entering the Great Barrier Reef.

“Students also spent time combing the beach at Four Mile Beach where they searched for evidence of plants and animals to build a picture of the diversity of life found in these coastal ecosystems,” he said

Reef Biosearch marine biologists from Quicksilver Connections, Russ Hore and Bianca Weyers, joined the students later in the day for a low tide safari around the edge of the inshore reef just off Four Mile Beach.

They shared their knowledge of the life cycles and ecology animals and plants living in the area and the connections they have with mangrove and beach ecosystems.

Mr Hore said that protecting the inshore environments of the Great Barrier Reef is vital for a healthy Reef.”

“By helping students understand the connections between our estuaries, inshore environments and the Reef we hope that as Reef Guardians they will spread the message through the community about the environmental values these areas have, and their importance in maintaining a healthy Reef,” he said.

Students attending were chosen to represent their school as Reef Guardian Future Leaders and to take messages they learnt at the Eco Challenge back to share with other students and their community.

The day was supported by Douglas Shire Council Mayor Julia Leu, Port Douglas River Cruises and Reef Biosearch Quicksilver Connections.

GBRMPA’s Reef Guardian Schools program includes 308 schools and over 126,000 students from Torres Strait to Brisbane taking part in Reef education and environmental activities in their local area.

Name: GBRMPA Media
Contact: (07) 4750 0846