Within the tourism industry, it is well recognised that many visitors to the Great Barrier Reef today are not content to just look and wonder at the marvels beheld. Most are anxious to ask questions and increase their understanding of how this complex system works.
To cater for visitors to the reef who want to learn about what they are seeing, marine biologists are included as crew onboard the Quicksilver vessels running to the Outer Reef and Low Isles.
On all of these vessels biologists conduct a DVD presentation discussing general reef ecology and other related topics. A major focus is to inform visitors of what they can do at the reef not just to enhance their experience but also to protect the reef from intentional or unintentional damage.
The Outer Barrier Reef
On the Outer Barrier Reef, Reef Biosearch biologists conduct guided snorkeling trips. Once at the reef, small groups of snorkelers (no more than eight per biologist) are taken away from the main Quicksilver vessel in a small tender. This allows the biologist to choose the most interesting and/or sheltered reef sites on the day and spend 45 minutes in the water showing the passengers much more than they would see by themselves and usually getting more adventurous than they otherwise would.
In the water, the biologist show snorkelers how to recognise fish and corals and many of the less conspicuous animals of the reef. Snorkelers are encouraged to use as many senses as possible - to lie still, look, listen and touch only gently those things that will be unaffected. The trips are aimed at providing the visitors to the reef with an insight into the basic ecology of the reef and perhaps more importantly, through increasing their understanding of how this fragile system functions, it is hoped that passengers will appreciate the need to preserve such a wonderful natural ecosystem.
Research aspects and the problems coral reefs are facing world-wide are highlighted with emphasis on what we can do to counteract this. These trips cater for both novices and the more experienced, who will enjoy a more adventurous trip to visit reef wall drop-offs, drift snorkel or whatever the day offers best.
At Low Isles the same activities are offered , as well as an interpretive beach walk introducing visitors to the plant and animal life of the island and surrounding reef. The Low Isles heritage trail is also part of the beach walk providing the visitor with information on the Aboriginal and European history of the island and the surrounding local communities.