Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - SA­MAN­THA HEALY

AS FAR as class­rooms go, they don’t get much bet­ter than this.

Fif­teen stu­dents from the Mi­ami Univer­sity in Ohio, USA, have been study­ing at Reef HQ as part of their mas­ters de­grees and got the rare op­por­tu­nity to swim in the tanks and get up close and per­sonal with the aquar­ium’s vast ar­ray of marine an­i­mals yesterday.

Pro­fes­sor Hays Cum­mins said the “tank swim” gave the stu­dents the chance to hone their skills be­fore head­ing back on to the Great Bar­rier Reef to con­duct “health checks”.

He said the study group had been learn­ing about the reef and the com­mu­ni­ties liv­ing and work­ing near it for more than a week.

“We have taken a day trip to Mag­netic Is­land and gone on a dive trip at Lode­stone Reef,” Prof Cum­mins ( right) said.

“The num­ber of hump­back whales out there was in­cred­i­ble.

“On the week­end we went ... across the Paluma Moun­tain Range to Hid­den Val­ley and then to Mun­galla Sta­tion ( near Ing­ham). This course is about the Reef but we also wanted to un­der­stand the con­nec­tions be­tween the peo­ple, the land uses and the sea.”

Dur­ing their stay, the stu­dents have been sleep­ing on air mat­tresses at the aquar­ium.

Prof Cum­mins said the group would take their ex­pe­ri­ences from the trip back to the US and pass on what they learned to stu­dents and the public.

The group will head out on another dive trip to­day and as­sess the health of a reef.

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