DAVID'S DOCCO TO BRING THE CROWDS

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Cas Gar­vey and Rory Sheav­ils

IN 1957, Sir David At­ten­bor­ough first vis­ited and scuba dived one of the great won­ders right on our doorstep: the Great Bar­rier Reef.

Sixty years later, the world­fa­mous broad­caster and nat­u­ral­ist has re­turned to film a new se­ries on ABC, and although he didn’t make a stop in the Whit­sun­days, there’s no doubt the tourism in­dus­try will ben­e­fit from the pub­lic­ity.

Newly elected Tourism Whit­sun­days chair­man Al Grundy was in Lon­don at Christ­mas when the doc­u­men­tary first aired.

“There was quite a buzz around it even over there, with peo­ple talk­ing about it,” he said.

“So what I think it re­ally does is firmly places the Great Bar­rier Reef as pos­si­bly the world’s num­ber one nat­u­ral at­trac­tion and nat­u­ral asset.

“And with hav­ing some­one like David At­ten­bor­ough show­case it, it just puts us in an amaz­ing po­si­tion mov­ing for­ward, be­cause that pro­gram is be­ing seen glob­ally.”

Cherry Mud­dle, the Whit­sun­day-based reef cam­paigner from the Aus­tralian Marine Con­ser­va­tion So­ci­ety, said she thought the doc­u­men­tary high­lighted the reef’s splen­dour and beauty – “and that’s so im­por­tant for in­spir­ing mil­lions of peo­ple to visit the reef and pro­tect it”.

“It does touch on co­ral bleach­ing, how­ever it was filmed be­fore the bleach­ing this sum­mer ac­tu­ally start- ed,” she said.

“But right now the reef is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the worst co­ral bleach­ing event, with more than 500 reefs se­verely bleached white.”

Sir David said the reef was “just a won­der of the nat­u­ral world”. Re­flect­ing on the unique ex­pe­ri­ence, he ex­plains in the doco how the reef has lost al­most half its co­ral since his first visit, and looks at what the fu­ture holds for it.

“Wher­ever there are hu- man be­ings and wher­ever there is in­dus­try, there are con­se­quences. And the con­se­quences on the coast are likely to be not too good for the reef,” Sir David said.

“Sci­en­tists have done re­search on co­ral and they now know for sure that if (the ocean tem­per­a­ture) goes up be­yond a de­gree, or a de­gree and a half, it will kill co­ral.

“The re­silience of the nat­u­ral world gives you great hope, re­ally. Give na­ture half a chance and it re­ally takes it and works with it.

“But we are throw­ing huge prob­lems at it.”

Part two of David At­ten­bor­ough’s Great Bar­rier Reef will air this Sun­day on ABC at 7.40pm.

SPEC­TAC­U­LAR: Sir David At­ten­bor­ough in his Great Bar­rier Reef se­ries on ABC.

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