It should go without saying, but you’d be amazed how many people can’t resist reaching out to feel coral with their fingers – with some even going so far as to break pieces off to take home as a souvenir.
Quite simply don’t do it, and if you see someone else doing it, say something. And in shops avoid buying anything made with coral. The reef is certainly beautiful, but is best enjoyed where it belongs – as part of a thriving underwater ecosystem.
Did you know that 14,000 TONS of sunscreen ends up in the world’s reefs every single year, causing mass damage?
The chemical that causes problems is oxybenzone, which exasperates fragile sections of coral and can even cause bleaching. You can’t buy products that contain it in Australia, but be wary if purchasing pre-trip.
Yes, it’s natural to want to sample some of the local flavours, but overfishing is a massive problem, not just in Australia but in all our oceans.
So, when you are tempted to try it, make sure it’s sourced sustainably. This can be checked at Sustainable Seafood's official website.
Before you leave on your Australian adventure, you can take steps to offset your carbon emissions.
The World Land Trust has a great calculator to work out how much you'd pay to make up for the long flight. Then, you simply make a donation, which is used to buy tracts of land around the world at risk of deforestation.
You can also opt instead to plant trees (try Carbon Footprint or, for businesses, Trees For Life). Then, when you arrive try not to rely on cars – take public transport or better yet walk if feasible.
For every visit you make to the reef, a levy is given to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), the organisation that helps protect and study the reef.
So, by not going, you’re essentially hitting their budget hard. Take your awe-inspiring trip guilt-free, and you'll be helping in a small way to protect one of the world's most vital living organisms.
Visiting the reef not only sees some of your holiday money go directly to helping support it, but you also can help share the love and get others to want to protect it, too.
Use social media to post photos or even send a postcard to family and friends. If people see how amazing it is, they’ll want to help – all doom and gloom does is make people apathetic and feel like they can’t make a difference, when they really can.