Jenny Edmondson was mowing her lawns. Quite a strange thing for the co-owner of Wavelength Reef Cruises to be doing…. but then again, we are in COVID times. Her normal backyard is not grass, but rather showing off pristine coral gardens, abundant fish and the clear waters of the outer Great Barrier Reef. Wavelength is the premier cruise operator when it comes to exploring the Great Barrier Reef from Port Douglas in far-north Queensland.
With both international and state borders currently closed, this is a downtime with no cruises scheduled and a hopeful re-start come this July. Wavelength is normally fielding a vessel with 38 guests for their regular day trip to 3 exclusive sites on the Great Barrier Reef. Locally owned and with over 34 years’ experience, Wavelength Reef Cruises specialise in small group size guided snorkelling tours with their very own marine biologists.
The Great Barrier Reef:
is one of the seven wonders of the natural world and was declared a World Heritage site in 1981 for its remarkable variety and beauty. It’s the world’s largest coral reef system with over 3000 individual reefs, 900 islands and stretches for over 2,600 kilometres (bigger than the United Kingdom, Switzerland and Holland combined). Amazingly 90% of its diversity occurs within 4 metres of the surface…which is why snorkelling on the reef is so popular and undoubtedly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
But there is no snorkelling happening on the reef for now…COVID-19 has seen to that. The coronavirus is a disrupter above the water line, and for coral reefs worldwide one of the big disrupters below the water line is indeed climate change and the warming water temperatures. The result is the Great Barrier Reef has seen a series of coral bleaching events over the last 5 years which have damaged some of the coral ecosystems on the reef. Fortunately for us all of the Great Barrier Reef is not damaged nor dead, and many areas of the reef are not affected. With time and a stable environment those bleached corals can re-grow, but the series of bleaching events within a short time-frame means that there is a greater challenge to recover.
This is where Wavelength have stepped in.
In early 2018 Wavelength Reef Cruises formed a partnership with the University of Technology Sydney to establish a Coral nurture program. It is a partnership between tourism and science that encourages and propagates the growth of heat resilient corals. Initially established with 2 multi-specie coral nurseries and now expanded to 7, these nurseries are located at healthy reef sites that Wavelength manage. The idea is to supplement the high-value reef sites with hardy corals that are heat tolerant to keep these reef sites healthy and thriving for the long-term.
The Coral Reef rehabilitation efforts have now expanded to a total of 6 operators within the Port Douglas/Cairns area. If successful, the goal is for broader adoption again of the Coral nurture program to other tour operators and stakeholders connected throughout the Great Barrier Reef. This program does not replace global efforts to further protect the reef, but if successful and upscaled it will contribute to the overall conservation of the reef. Combined with the Eye on the Reef monitoring program, Wavelength Reef Cruises is utilising their current downtime well to contribute to the health and well-being of the Great Barrier Reef.
Wavelength is passionate about conservation and low impact tourism at its best. Even in these tough COVID times the company is working to protect the incredible natural wonder that is the Great Barrier Reef. The company recognises the importance so that future generations can experience and benefit from the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef as we do today. Make sure to support Wavelength Reef Cruises and enjoy a day trip to the outer Great Barrier Reef with them when you next visit Port Douglas and far-north Queensland.
Good to know:
Port Douglas is a touch of paradise.
Just an hour north of Cairns Airport, Port Douglas is uniquely bordered by two World Heritage sites, the magnificent Great Barrier Reef and the ancient Daintree Rainforest.
Well worth a 5+ night stay, take time to also explore the northern beaches, sample coffee and chocolates in the Atherton Tablelands, meet the big crocs at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, don’t forget a swim in the fresh-water Mossman Gorge and simply relish in the delights that this tropical village has to offer.
Daintree Ice Cream Company. Tourism & Events Queensland