Impossible things

Science, denial and the Great Barrier Reef

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  • Published 20170727
  • ISBN: 9781925498417
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

IN THE SUMMER of 2016 everything changes. Portentous news should come by phone, or a knock on the door, maybe a letter dropping onto a mat. But in this case, it is everywhere. Inescapable. The Great Barrier Reef is dying, some say dead. A wave of bleaching has swept across the coral. The reef is large – the size of Japan – and it takes months to confirm what scientists already suspect. This coral-bleaching event, caused by unusually warm waters, is the worst in history.

When the surveys are released, I delve into the details. The northern reef is the worst. More than 80 per cent of the coral around Lizard Island has died. The shock is visceral, like news of a car crash. I glance up at the framed photos next to my desk: a clown fish nestles in an anemone, and a violet nudibranch dances in blue. I’d taken the photos with my ancient underwater camera, a Nikonos III, on one of those long-ago dives. Those glorious reefs. Gone. In an instant.

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About the author

Lisa Walker

Lisa Walker has worked as a zoological research assistant, lecturer in environmental interpretation, environmental educator and community relations officer for the NSW National Parks...

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