“Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt. Not sure how to participate? Here are the steps to get started.”
He watched as the tide retreated once more. It left behind clumps of kelp like white clay; crumbling statues concealed beneath the sanded shores. Night was approaching, the sun hung low, and the surge of divers evaporated.
For a moment; relief, joy and hope—all these emotions mingled in his mind. They were short lived, tomorrow, dawn would arrive, and a human wave would once again bleach the corals white. They would disappear beneath trodden shoes, swarmed by a sea of inky black diving parasites.
Sunscreen would leach into the water, and the reef would once again, blanketed from the light.
The marine biologist turned away – and sighed.
He held a piece of coral, it was brittle and broke easily in his gloved hand. He placed it in a bottle, labelled sample.
It read – number one hundred and sixty, thirtieth March, Twenty Sixteen.
He placed it down gently, and there was a notebook beside.
And under the thirtieth March, today; the words, it lives – one more day.
Above that, the previous entry. It lives – again.
It was a thick volume, and entries stood dated throughout the years. He flicked through the pages; The reef is healthy, and the reef is thriving it read in the earlier passages—he closed it shut.
Gone. It wouldn’t be long before it was all gone.
He placed the samples and his observations in a lockbox, Turned a key, sparked the engine, and there was a roar, the splinter of water, and he was away.
The Great Barrier Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“The reef contains an abundance of marine life and comprises of over 3000 individual reef systems and coral cays and literally hundreds of picturesque tropical islands with some of the worlds most beautiful sun-soaked, golden beaches.Because of its natural beauty, the Great Barrier Reef has become one of the worlds most sought after tourist destinations.” 
I remember visiting it as a child, and I’ve been dying to visit Queensland to go again. These days, though, the reef is shrinking and dying off in huge swaths due to ‘coral bleaching’.
“An aerial survey of the northern Great Barrier Reef has shown that 95 per cent of the reefs are now severely bleached — far worse than previously thought.”
Coral bleaching is the process of losing algal pigmentation, the proponent responsible for the vibrant colours that we associate with coral. At this point, coral bleaching isn’t altogether understood. It is theorised that it is a stress response due to factors including:
Increased water temperature
Change in water chemistry
Change in salinity
Elevated sea levels
non-biodegradable components of sunscreen.
In Australia, the Great Barrier Reef is located near farm run-offs where herbicides pervade the water. A mine port extension was recently proposed at Port Gladstone. While these companies are unlikely to cease their activities, we can all do our part.
It is believed that sunscreen when it leaches into the water blankets the corals in substances that prevent light, and thus photosynthesis. I’m not saying get burnt, but rather invest in the more eco-friendly biodegradable sunscreens.
What do you think about Coral Bleaching? Would you like to see the Great Barrier Reef? It was amazing when I visited as a child and I would very much like to go again. Please leave your thoughts below.