Among those left with little to do by the coronavirus pandemic are many of the world’s tour guides, unable to congregate in groups and generally not having any tourists to lead. A dive tour operator in Australia has launched a plan for their idle hands — planting coral along the Great Barrier Reef. Five Australian reef companies have committed to working alongside scientists in using their downtime to help restore the country’s imperiled reef.
Passions of Paradise, a dive tour operator based in Cairns, Queensland, has donated a ship and fuel to be used for a coral planting mission at Hastings Reef. Australian travel publication Karryon reported that four of the company’s staffers have been working alongside scientist Dr. David Dugget as part of the Coral Nurture Program.
“We have been assisting Dr. David Suggett’s team from the University of Technology Sydney who is conducting reef resilience research at one of our 26 reef sites,” said Passions of Paradise CEO Scott Garden to Karryon. “I have been working with Passions of Paradise Environmental Sustainability Coordinator Russell Hosp at the site most weeks recording data for the project and establishing a coral nursery.”
The Coral Nurture Program began last year and has planted more than 1,000 pieces of coral on Hastings Reef. The Great Barrier Reef has experienced mass bleachings in recent years due to warming ocean temperatures and strain on the surrounding environment. Passions of Paradise plans to begin operating tours once local shelter-in-place orders have been lifted in the area, allowing divers to visit the reef and assist with local conservation efforts.