Divers at the University of Queensland in Australia will spend 24 hours under water in an effort to raise money and awareness for coral reefs.
The event, called For the Love of the Reef, is part of the not-for-profit Reef Citizen Science Alliance’s month-long campaign to educate the community and take action to support coral reef sustainability efforts.
A total of 48 divers from the university’s underwater club, UniDive, will take turns diving in pairs at the UQ Sport Aquatic Centre beginning at 9am on Saturday, October 20.
While underwater they will practice the surveying skills which they might use if diving around actual coral reefs. The team, lead by senior research fellow Chris Roelfsema, will coordinate events throughout the day to raise money and awareness about the reef.
According to Roelfsema, “25% of marine creatures originated from, or are depending on, coral reefs, but coral reefs only cover one percent of the ocean floor.
“These regions have the highest biodiversity in the oceans – similar to rainforests on land – and also protect us from weather events.”
He notes the difficulty in raising awareness about coral reefs, saying “a lot of people simply don’t know these facts, and how can you love and protect something if you don’t know enough about it? We are hoping that this event can play its part in changing that”.
The event includes a barbecue and prize raffle, and visitors can participate in activities such as a virtual reef exploration, an underwater rugby demonstration, reef art activities, and a nighttime screening of Lin Sutherland’s film, Beauty and the Reef.
Funds raised will be donated to environmental groups CoralWatch, Reef Check Australia, and Virtual Reef Diver.
The diving marathon is billed as ‘fun for all ages’. Registration details and a full program for the day’s events can be found here.