Over 50s on reef saving mission

A mission to become the most sustainable tour operator in Australia has led to Fun Over Fifty assisting the Reef Restoration Foundation’s goal to plant one million new corals on the Great Barrier Reef by 2026.

Reef Restoration Foundation chief executive Ryan Donnelly welcomed the sponsorship of a coral tree by the Brisbane-based coach touring company.

“The coral trees are used to grow corals to regenerate high-value reef sites at our Great Barrier Reef nurseries,” Mr Donnelly said.

“Our permit from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority allows us to trim fragments from a living coral colony on the reef and grow them at a faster rate on the trees before out-planting half the new colonies back on the reef.

“We then trim the remaining new colonies into fragments to be grown on the tree, allowing us to produce many more new corals from the original living coral colony.”

Fun Over Fifty chief executive Toni Brennan said her company was determined to build a new coral nursery one branch at a time.

“Fun Over Fifty has a passion for giving back to each region that we visit,” Ms Brennan said.

“We work closely with the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals and are recognised for developing initiatives to get our guests involved with these goals.

“Fun Over Fifty has started with the donation of one coral tree and with each tour to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef region we hope guests will offset their carbon footprint by donating to the Fun Over Fifty Green Bank, taking us closer to our goal of building a new coral nursery,” she said.

“Eventually we are interested in including volunteering at the Reef Restoration Foundation nursery as part of our green getaways for passionate travellers.”

Mr Donnelly said the Reef Restoration Foundation received no government funding and relied on the corporate sector and individuals to donate funds to progress the science of reef restoration in the Cairns region to regenerate high-value reefs.

“Our not-for-profit social enterprise founded the first offshore coral nursery in Australia when we established a pilot nursery at Fitzroy Island in December 2017,” he said.

“We now have an additional nursery at Hastings Reef and one planned for Moore Reef in September.

“Reef Restoration Foundation has a first-class science program, committed commercial partners and an army of volunteers.

“This strong foundation allows us to branch into the adoption of new techniques currently being trialled, such as larval rearing, that will enable us to produce vast numbers of new corals over the coming years,” Mr Donnelly said.

“Our work is monitored by scientists from James Cook University’s TropWATER and to date we have demonstrated that coral grown in nurseries develops three to eight times faster, allowing us to accelerate the regeneration of high-value Great Barrier Reef sites.”

Do you think enough is being done to protect the Great Barrier Reef? Would you go on a tour that included volunteering to plant new coral on the Great Barrier Reef?

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