Au revoir, ReefHQ

reef HQ building noticeReef HQ Aquarium is about to close for a year for an extensive rebuilding project.

The whole structure is thirty years old and is looking tired; quite apart from that, its surrounding have changed: a building which was a great use of the site when it was shared by the Magnetic Island ferry terminal and the Omnimax theatre is now awkward, almost dysfunctional. The big reef and predator tanks will stay where they are, for obvious reasons, but everything else will move. It will take at least a year, and it starts in February.

ReefHQ’s website has plenty of information about the project but as a former volunteer I was happy to see the place, and some old friends, again last week before it vanished.

green python at reefhq
The green python in its favoured resting position
moray eel reef hq
Moray eel
Volunteer Association ReefHQ
The “Volunteers’ Wall” honouring some of the hundreds of volunteers

The story of Plastic Free July

Plastic Free coverPlastic Free is a warmly personal narrative by the founder of Plastic Free July, a sustainability initiative which began less than ten years ago, almost by accident, in Perth.

Prince-Ruiz was working at the time as a community educator in waste management so she was well equipped to support the programme when it unexpectedly took off – and that was all it needed.

Her emphasis was always on community, on shared learning, and on doing what’s possible right now rather than aiming higher and missing the goal. It made Plastic Free July an achievable and therefore engaging challenge, which then became a gateway to engagement with other sustainability issues – avoiding other single-use products, reducing food waste, joining food co-ops, and so on.
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Citizen Science – iNaturalist

The internet and digital photography have opened up wonderful opportunities for ordinary people to get involved in citizen science as observers of the natural world. Online meeting places and forums come and go but the best at the moment seems to be iNaturalist – https://www.inaturalist.org.

It’s a global project and the numbers are huge: 54 million observations by 1.4 million observers from nearly every country in the world when I looked recently. That presents a management problem, of course, which is solved by having countries run independent branches, e.g. https://inaturalist.ala.org.au/

Anyone at all can browse the content of the site but people have to sign up to participate. When that’s done (at no cost and very little trouble) they can upload their observations, help with identifying others’ observations, and join the discussion forums.  It’s a big and complex site but not too difficult to negotiate because it is exceptionally well planned and because there is no need to use most of its functions until you want to. (I have to admit there are some that I haven’t bothered with in the year I have been a member.)

And ordinary people can make very useful contributions to the project, especially if they (we) are outside the big cities.

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Hinchinbrook Island beach clean-up

Hinchinbrook Island lies just off the coast between Ingham and Cardwell. It’s a National Park, with strict limits on camping and (usually) a waiting list of walkers wanting to hike the Thorsborne Trail. Its inner (western) coast is a shallow mangrove-fringed channel, while its outer (eastern) coast is spectacularly beautiful, with rugged mountains rising behind a series of sandy beaches. Those beaches, sadly, accumulate as much marine debris as our mainland beaches.

Tangaroa Blue Foundation is a relatively new environmental NGO, an “Australia-wide not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the removal and prevention of marine debris,” as their website says. They keep themselves busy: their events page lists, for example, 19 days of beach clean-ups in October alone.

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