On 10 June 2021, the IPA will premiere Dr Jennifer Marohasy’s latest documentary on the Great Barrier Reef: Finding Porites: The Old Corals With Our Climate History.
Among the mysteries hidden in the depths of the Great Barrier Reef is the presence of the monster corals, Porites – are they alive or dead? Archival footage shows that they were cored by scientists in the past. So following Dr Peter Ridd’s advice, Jennifer sets off in search of them accompanied by an American diver who believes the reef is dead, and three Marlin fishermen. They make it all the way to the enchanting Myrmidon Reef, but do they find the corals?
IPA Senior Fellow Dr Jennifer Marohasy presents this short film which allows Australians to see for themselves that claims that the Great Barrier Reef is in crisis are not true.
A key claim in a January 2016 article in the scientific journal, Nature, is that there are no longer any living colonies of Acropora – a particular type of coral – at Stone Island off Bowen Harbour in the Whitsundays, and that other corals are now covered in mud.
Dr Peter Ridd’s path to dismissal by James Cook University began with an email questioning claims that the corals at Stone Island were bleached, dead and reduced to mudflats.
Dr Marohasy and her team went to find out the true state of the coral reefs around Stone Island.
What they found contradicts the Nature paper and proves this key reef system is very much alive.
What is the true state of the Great Barrier Reef? If you asked most Australians, they’d say the Great Barrier Reef is at risk of imminent collapse from climate change. It was for questioning this claim, and the quality of science behind it, that eventually led to Dr Peter Ridd being sacked from James Cook University.
In January 2020, Emmy Award winning cameraman Clint Hempsall, and IPA Senior Fellow Jennifer Marohasy decided to find out. They spent a week exploring the Ribbon Reefs 250kms to the north east of Cairns in search of coral bleaching – the process of corals turning white as a result of warmer water temperature, which climate scientists say is being caused by climate change. Some argue 60% of the coral at the Ribbon Reefs was irretrievably bleached in 2016.
If there was extensive bleaching back then, Jennifer and Clint couldn’t find much evidence of it in January this year. What they did find was healthy corals, curious clown fish, a giant potato cod, reef sharks, and an underwater cave. Indeed, much of the coral Clint filmed was growing vertically and would thus be invisible to the aerial surveys underpinning the bleaching scare.