World Oceans Day: my favourite memory

By Alex Mifflin, co-host of The Water Brothers
My favorite childhood memory of the ocean was back in 1998 during a family trip to Australia. For three weeks all of us piled in a van and drove up and down Australia’s entire east coast getting a taste of the incredible biological diversity the country has to offer and all the weird and wonderful animals that call it home.
There are so many amazing memories from that trip but the best of them all was the weekend we spent snorkeling and diving on the Great Barrier Reef up in Queensland. It was the first time my brother and I had ever seen a coral reef and as soon we took our first step in the water we came face to face with a Giant Humphead Wrasse. The fish was as big we were. We were swimming face to face with what seemed like a giant monster and we’ve been hooked on exploring the ocean ever since.
water brothers oceans day
Fast-forward 15 years and our relationship to the ocean has changed a great deal. Although we still have the same excited feelings every time we put our masks on and go diving, the signs of change we have seen in this short time are very concerning. Since our first glimpse of the Great Barrier Reef in 1998, over 30% of its coral cover has disappeared. Since 1987 when I was born, the losses are well over 50% and the same story can be told on just about any reef system in the world. Even the biggest reef system in the world is vulnerable, especially to the silent scourges of warming waters and ocean acidification.
The challenge of protecting reefs from complete collapse is daunting. However, there is so much that can be done in the short term, starting with better funding for the creation of marine protected areas as well as stronger monitoring to protect reefs from destructive fishing practices. But if you want to do something to protect reefs yourself, my best advice is to go see one yourself. Support countries and marine parks with your tourist dollars. Become a responsible reef tourist and be careful what seafood you choose to eat in tropical countries. Be careful not to touch anything, and take home only pictures and memories. I can assure you, they will be some of the best ones you will ever have.
Check out this Water Brothers episode of their trip to the Meso-American Reef, the second longest barrier coral reef system in the world.