About Me

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I'm Shannon and I am applying for THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD. I am an outgoing, self-motivated, funny girl who loves to travel. After graduating from the University of Toronto with a degree in Theatre and English, I lived in Australia for one year. During that time I spent 6 months living in the Northern Territory; three months in the mining town of Nhulunbuy on the Gulf of Carpenteria, one month in Darwin and two months in Alice Springs. I did spend some time in Queensland, I LOVED Townsville and Rockhampton and Great Kepple Island. I had the opportunity to dive the Great Barrier Reef and I learned to surf. I sailed the Whitsunday Islands and am KEENLY aware of what I will be missing out on if I don't get to experience Hamilton Island for myself. On this blog I will be writing about me, my past travel experiences and hopefully showing everyone why I am the best candidate for THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD! If you would like to email me you can reach me at shannontheislandgirl@rogers.com If it takes me some time to respond to your email, it's just because I'm busy packing my bags! See you on the island!

The Island Girl's Videos

Monday, February 16, 2009

National Geographic is Cool

"The Great Barrier Reef is the tropical rain forest of the ocean" I thought that was a great way to describe the amazing ecosystem that exists, not only in the Great Barrier Reef, but in all of the coral reef systems in the world. (Did you know that there are coral reefs in 190 different countries? The work of reef conservation really is a global affair)

I have been doing some research on the coral of the Great Barrier Reef. I knew that the reefs were amazing living creations that are home to thousands of kinds of fish and marine life, but wow! The relationships that exist to make the reef work are amazing. What I found the most fascinating were the number of symbiotic relationships that must work perfectly in order for the reef to continue to exist. If one tiny thing falls out of whack, everything spirals downwards very quickly.

One of these symbiotic relationships exists between polyps and zooxanthellae. The reefs are actually a colony of coral polyps who join together by external skeletons. The polyps have tentacles with which they catch and eat plankton, however their primary food source comes from their BFFs, zooxanthellae. Zooxanthellae, (let's call them Zoo from here on in just to make it easier for me), live inside the polyps and use photosynthesis to convert the sunlight in to food. (That is why coral reefs are always in relatively shallow water, they need the sun to survive) The waste produced by the Zoo are the main food source for the polyps and the polyps provide shelter and protection for the Zoo. Neither could exist without the other. This perfect friendship between the coral polyps and the zoo demands the most ideal oceanic conditions. If the water gets to warm or the sea levels get to high and the Zoo can't get energy from the sun, the relationship goes sour and the polyps kick the zoo out of their warm safe homes leaving the coral to lose it's colour and eventually starve to death. This process is called coral bleaching and it affects almost every coral reef in the world.

The Australian government follows coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef Action Plan is a 5 year $8.9 million plan that has been put in place to try to reverse climate change and it's affect on the Great Barrier Reef. Many of us who are applying for THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD do not live in Australia but that doesn't mean that we can't do our part to help the reef recover and maintain it's delicate ecosystem balance. Through making small changes to our every day life, and by practicing responsible tourism while visiting sensitive areas like the Great Barrier Reef we can keep our world healthy enough that the 1.9 million tourists a year who visit the reef can keep coming back, and another 1.9 million can see the beauty that exists under the sea!

Anyway, the reason I started writing this post is because I was on the National Geographic website and I found this great video of a photographer who has spent a lot of time diving the Great Barrier Reef. His name is David Doubilet and he describes the Great Barrier Reef as "One of the great pulses on the planet". I thought that was a great description. Be sure to check out his work HERE The shots are amazing.

And spread the word...Green is Sexy and important. Let's all do our part.