One of Australia’s most iconic natural areas — the Great Barrier Reef — was the backdrop for the Queen’s Baton Relay yesterday as part of the lead up to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
And school students from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Reef Guardian Schools program were part of this unique experience, joining the official baton on a vessel to the Reef off Cairns.
Visiting Moore Reef with the Queen’s baton and baton bearers, the students were able to be part of the iconic event and contribute data on the health of the Reef at the same time.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority engagement officer Phil Laycock remarked this was a unique opportunity to showcase the Reef to a wide audience.
“The Reef Guardian students were party to a special moment in the Great Barrier Reef’s history — not often does the Reef play the stage for a Commonwealth Games event,” he said.
“The occasion was a unique opportunity to showcase the Reef to many eyes across the Commonwealth.
“With the Commonwealth Games baton on board, students who learn marine science as part of the school curriculum, were able to observe the reef while snorkelling off a pontoon.
“They marked on underwater clip boards what they saw beneath the surface – including the baton which we added as a sighting on the Eye on the Reef app.
“Other marine creatures sighted were two green turtles, a giant clam and a white tip reef shark along with herbivorous parrotfish that were in high abundance.
“All involved were thrilled by the opportunity to observe the Reef among the vibe that the Queen’s Baton Relay brought.”
They also heard from marine experts about how they can help “love the Reef” — including through the Eye on the Reef program, which allows anyone out on the water to provide information on reef health.
The Queen’s Baton Relay will cover the Great Barrier Reef catchment from Cooktown to Bundaberg stopping at many towns and tourist hot-spots along the way.
The Queen’s Baton Relay is a Games tradition that celebrates the Commonwealth’s diversity, inspires community pride and excites people about the world-class festival of sports and culture. It will also be the most sustainable Commonwealth Games in history.
It carries a message from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II that calls the Commonwealth’s athletes to come together in peaceful and friendly competition.
For further information about training for the Rapid Monitoring Survey, the Reef Guardian Schools program or the Eye on the Reef Sightings Network visit www.gbrmpa.gov.au
Photos of the Queen’s Baton Relay trip to the Great Barrier Reef can be downloaded here.