The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most idyllic UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world, with its beauty has earned it a place amongst the Seven Natural Wonders of the world. Today, we are going to be taking a look at how you can volunteer to help to preserve the Great Barrier Reef.

How to Volunteer

Given that the Great Barrier Reef is losing its ability to recover from disturbances, it is more important than ever that we do everything we can to try and preserve it. Having the opportunity to see the Great Barrier Reef up close is something that many people dream of, but being able to protect it offers much more joy and a real sense of accomplishment.

The main aims of conservation efforts centred on the Great Barrier Reef can differ. Some aim to offer researchers valuable information, whereas others focus solely on protecting marine life. There are also volunteer opportunities for people who wish to teach others how to respect and preserve the Great Barrier Reef for future generations.

The Great Barrier Reef Foundation lists many volunteering opportunities.

More often than not, conservation programmes factor in several different things. These range from scuba diving to monitoring the rate at which the Great Barrier Reef is degrading, meaning that you could potentially gain a scuba certificate during your time here, such as offered by the goeco program. You may wish to look for a programme that suits your needs, but you should be able to swim confidently. If you would like to hone in on your swimming skills, then you may wish to think about taking part in some private swimming lessons at home. These will enable you to reach your prime quickly, preparing you as you venture to the Great Barrier Reef to take part in some of the ongoing conservation efforts.

Great Barrier Reef
Great Barrier Reef

5 Steps to Preserving the Great Barrier Reef

There are plenty of things that you could do to help to preserve the Great Barrier Reef, regardless of whether you are diving or snorkelling in Australia amongst the features of the UNESCO World Heritage Site or at home. Here are five things that we would recommend:

1. Get Involved

If we take a look at the Great Barrier Reef, then we can see plenty of different programmes that are being run by charities, conservation foundations, and scientists. These marine conservation projects often involve group activities, during which you will have the opportunity to collect data and contribute your findings, helping to protect the Great Barrier Reef for future generations.

Many of these storied conservation projects also include a diving course. If you are looking to become a certified diver, then you could be presented with the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.

2. Check Sunscreen Labels

If you spend a lot of time outside under the sun, then you will understand the importance of high-quality sunscreen. We believe that everyone should wear sunscreen, but studies have proven that the chemicals in sunscreen are directly contributing to the rate at which our coral reef systems are declining.

When you are choosing your sunscreen, you should try to make sure that it has minimal impact on the marine environment, avoiding ingredients like nanoparticles, oxybenzone, octinoxate, butylparaben, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor and octocrylene. (Read more about marine-safe sunscreens.)

3. Avoid Coral Souvenirs

Coral souvenirs that are found around holiday destinations have to come from somewhere. Around the world, our coral reefs are in decline. The reason for this is some people are willing to strip them to craft goods.

Where possible, you should aim to avoid souvenirs that are made from coral because of this, instead choosing to go with synthetic materials.

4. Avoid Plastics

Recently, the extreme rate at which plastics are polluting our oceans has been all over the news. We have all witnessed the distressing images of where our single-use bottles and straws can end up and the damage that they can cause.

To help to protect the Great Barrier Reef while you are at home, you should think about limiting the number of plastics that you use. You could also start thinking about alternatives.

5. Educate Yourself and Others

If you want to help to conserve the Great Barrier Reef, then you should try to educate yourself as much as possible. When you truly understand the difficulties that the Great Barrier Reef is experiencing, you will be in a much better position to share those with other people.

There is plenty to learn, from the natural beauty of the reef system itself to some of the many things found there. You could also take a look at the experiences that scientists have had when working in research and conservation fields.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are plenty of different things that you can do as a volunteer to help to protect the Great Barrier Reef, preserving it for future generations. We would highly recommend that you start right now, limiting the plastics in your life and paying close attention to the products that you use.

If you are ready to jump into the water, then you may wish to go and find a volunteer programme on the reef that suits your needs.

by Nikos Vasilellis

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