From Jennifer Marohasy
December 8, 2023 By jennifer
I was nervous about taking Sky News Australia presenter and the Editor of The Spectator Australia, Rowan Dean, to John Brewer Reef. Would we really be able to find the famous coral – the badly bleached coral that had featured in The Guardian as emblematic of mass death from global warming.
I wondered and I worried. Eighteen months on. If that coral hadn’t died from global warming, might it have been eaten by a Bump Head – a type of coralliferous parrot fish in the family Scaridae.
I don’t worry about all the corals. But sometimes I worry about specific corals.
There are a lot of corals to potentially worry about.
Australian governments – especially recent Coalition governments – keep giving so much money to activist scientists who claim they can save the Great Barrier Reef?
It is still one of the seven wonders of the world. It is still visible from outer space. Visible from outer space because this coral-dominated ecosystem is so vast because there is so much coral.
Yet, our government gives hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of hard-earned taxpayer dollars for plantings of just a few corals here and there. Not even an acre of corals, sometimes it is just a few metres of corals.
I have visited a couple of these plantings.
Everyone is usually disappointed.
The few sprigs of corals that they plant usually grow. But then these same few small sprigs are sometimes gobbled up – by the large fishes.
Did you know that a single Bump Head consumes upward of 5 tonnes of live coral in one year.
These coralliferous fish hang around in groups of about 30. That’s 150 tonnes of live coral gobbled in a year!
These fishes have bellies full of coral – including taxpayer funded plantings.
I’ve jumped off the back of a boat, at a place called Bougainville Reef, and descended down 12 metres to see these Bump Heads; like a herd of buffalo across an open plain: kicking up the dust – except it is sand. And eating the grass – except it is coral.
I sometimes worry that these fishes will descent on John Brewer Reef and eat-up that one famous coral that featured in The Guardian, that was back in March last year, in March 2022.
I remember Scott Hargreaves, now Executive Director at the Institute of Public Affairs, being apprehensive about approving for me to visit. Did I really wanted to take the best underwater photographer, Stuart Ireland, to a coral reef that was making headlines around the world as the epicentre of a sixth mass coral bleaching?
I was back at that reef just two months or so ago, with Rowan Dean. I did want to show him that specific coral, as well as all the fishes at this reef that had made media headlines for all the wrong reasons.
A full 18 months after the first claims this reef would take a decade to recover from mass bleaching, we set off to find that coral.
Skipper Paul Crocombe got us to John Brewer Reef. You will see in the film launched at YouTube just today whether Rowan is brave enough to jump in, on snorkel, and find that coral. The film is called ‘Café Latte Coral’ and I’m hoping you will share it with your friends.
Is Rowan Dean going to find that coral dead, or recovered – or eaten by a Bump Head!
‘Café Latte Coral – it’s supposed to be dead!’ is an IPA production, starring Rowan Dean, produced by me (Jennifer Marohasy), filmed and edited by the best underwater cameraman who also happens to be a marine biologist, the one and only Stuart Ireland. A big thanks to Paul Crocombe who heads Adrenalin Snorkel and Dive for getting us out to John Brewer Reef.
The feature image shows Rowan with Paul Crocombe being filmed by Stuart Ireland with Leonard Lim assisting. We set off from the Breakwater Marina, Townsville, with Adrenalin Snorkel and Dive. If you would like to see The Great Barrier Reef, and in particular visit a reef that has been described as mass death, then book a trip with Adrenalin Snorkel and Dive to John Brewer Reef.
If you only have two minutes, you can watch a short version of Café Latte Coral, click here.
If you would like to see more Bump Heads, including at Bougainville Reef, they feature in one of my very first little productions, home-made with a slow and teasing voice over, click here.