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Mississippi River
Great Barrier Reef
Photograph by Australian Picture Library/CORBIS
Watershed Moments

“Great Barrier Reef”

Your Mission

Be a Great Barrier Reef ecotour leader!

Eco What?

G’day, mate! The Land Down Under—that’s Australia to you, seppo—has a problem. The government wants to give tourists ecotours of the Great Barrier Reef, but it needs qualified tour guides. She’s apples if you’re at the reef all day—sunshine and all the snorkeling you can handle (in your free time, of course) None of us Aussies has a clue about being an ecotour guide. Why don’t you apply?

Work with a mate on this assignment. Your goal is to convince the Australian government that you would be the most qualified people to give ecotours of the Great Barrier Reef. What’s an ecotour, you say? Learn more about this relatively new field at http://www.ecotourism.org.

Reef Brief

The Great Barrier Reef lies off the east coast of Australia. It is the world’s largest coral reef. Coral reefs have been called the “tropical rain forests of the ocean.” The Great Barrier Reef, a World Heritage Area, is a popular tourist site, as well as an important environmental resource. To get the job as ecotour-guide, you’ll need to know a lot about the reef, and about how to visit it in an environmentally sound way. You can find helpful information at Trishan’s Page of Oz (http://www.ozramp.net.au/~senani/barrier.htm) or at the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency site (www.env.qld.gov.au/environment/coast/reef/), or by going to other sites. Take notes, because you’re going to be making a brochure to promote your venture.

Creating Your Brochure

Here are some suggestions on what you might want to include in your brochure:

  • A map of Australia and the Great Barrier Reef. (Make sure your map includes latitude and longitude, and “TODALSS,” a cartographer’s way of remembering these map elements: Title, Orientation, Data, Author, Legend, Scale, Source.)

  • A description of a coral reef: What is a coral reef? Why are coral reefs important?

  • The reason why the Great Barrier Reef can be called a region. What are the unique characteristics of this region?

  • A list of
  • some of the species that inhabit the Great Barrier Reef, including various kinds of fish, coral, mollusks (such as clams and sea slugs), seaweed, birds, sea snakes, and sea turtles;

  • natural and human-induced threats to the Great Barrier Reef; and

  • things people can do to help save the reef.

  • Tips for responsible techniques and practices for marine ecotourism.
  • For design tips and a checklist of more items your brochure could feature, go to the About.com Website (in Web Links). Make sure all the information you include focuses on ecotourism.

    Making Your Pitch

    Use what you have learned about the environmental importance of coral reefs and the benefits of ecotourism to convince the Australian government to hire your team to give ecotours of the Great Barrier Reef. Explain the ways in which humans are modifying this region and what people can do to help save the reef.

    Taking Action!

  • You don’t have to live near the coast to have an effect on a coral reef. To find out what steps the Environmental Protection Agency is taking to protect coral reefs and how you can contribute to this effort, go to http://www.epa.gov/owow/oceans/factsheets/
    fact4.html.


  • Consider participating in the annual International Coastal Cleanup. You can find the list of state coordinators for this project at the Center for Marine Conservation (http://www.cmc-ocean.org/cleanupbro/coord/US/
    coord.php3
    ).

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