Girls help to protect the Great Barrier Reef

5 May 2022

Meriden girls recently spent their Easter holidays helping to protect and conserve one of the most important ecosystems in the world: The Great Barrier Reef. Twenty-eight Senior School Geography students spent a week in Tropical North Queensland exploring the reef and learning what needs to be done to protect this delicate ecosystem for future generations.

One of many trip highlights involved a snorkelling tour to the outer reef, where the girls collected valuable information about the reef’s health and marine life. The data collected was reported to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s “Eye on the Reef” program, a monitoring and assessment program dedicated to the long-term protection of the reef’s ecosystem.

Year 11 student, Phoebe van Niekerk, said the program was a fantastic way to see the reef’s marine life whilst learning about the environmental and human impacts affecting the reef.

“We learnt about the major causes of coral loss including coral bleaching and the damaging impact of crown-of-thorns starfish on the outer reef. The experience has given me a greater passion for my study of Geography,” said Phoebe.

Other trip highlights included seeing the important work volunteers at the Fitzroy Island Turtle Rehabilitation Centre are doing in caring for sick and injured turtles, and completing a guided tour by a local Kuku Yalanji Indigenous Ranger through the Daintree Rainforest.

Social Science teacher, Mrs Julie Shannon, said seeing the challenges the region is facing has been an invaluable learning opportunity for the students.

"The girls really benefitted from exploring the region in person and witnessing the positive and negative effects that humans have had on this special part of our world,” said Mrs Shannon.

“The experience has expanded their learning and provided opportunities to apply the knowledge they have been learning in class to the real world,” she said.

Year 10 student, Katerina Kojevnikov, said she highly recommends the trip for other Meriden girls studying Geography.

“It was a phenomenal learning experience. We were able to immerse ourselves in the local community, see incredible wildlife and gain a better understanding of what can be done to help the reef in the future,” said Katerina.

Thank you to Mrs Julie Shannon, Mr Jonathan Eloff and Mrs Betty Steele-Smith who accompanied the girls for this experience.