This week I had the opportunity to photograph mermaids. Not just any mermaids, these were special – they were in Cairns for a quick visit with the Australian Conservation Foundation to ask people to support marine reserves. On their way home, they stopped off at Moore Reef, on the Great Barrier Reef, where I caught up with them for a photo shoot thanks to Reef Magic and the Australian Conservation Foundation.
It isn’t everyday that you get the opportunity to photograph mermaids, and that we were amongst beautiful coral gardens on the Great Barrier Reef was even more special. The mermaids names were: Aradia, Nerissa and Volitania and also out on the reef for the day was Monique and Chris from the Australian Conservation Foundation and my buddy / mermaid wrangler Xavier (big thank you’s to an excellent wingman). To find out more about what they were doing check out http://www.acfonline.org.au/howdeep or http://www.protectourcoralsea.org.au which is the campaign I have been involved with for the last two years.
I had heard lots of favourable reports on how good Reef Magic’s reef site is for a while and I was pretty excited to be finally headed out to check it out. Their pontoon is located at Moore Reef, right on the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef, and the reports weren’t exaggerated. The team at Reef Magic have really looked after their patch of reef, and they have every reason to be proud. The plate corals were beautiful, the crew friendly and the weather really came to the party. However I did have three mermaids to photograph, so I couldn’t be distracted for too long and I am looking forward to getting back out there to check it out further.
The mermaidens, Nerissa (Shelley Dunlop) Aradia (Katie Laczko) and Volitania (Katy Dawson), promote marine conservation to children and beachgoers in their hometown of Melbourne. ACF and the Mermaidens visited Cairns with the support of the Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC). ACF and CAFNEC are part of the Protect our Coral Sea alliance of 15 international, national, state and regional environment groups. Three mermaids have joined with the Australian Conservation Foundation as Ambassadors for the national marine reserve network and oceans protection. They are asking Australians to urge the Federal Government to commit to its plan to establish the world’s largest network of marine reserves.
More on the marine reserves:
The Australian Federal Government is undertaking a plan to implement marine reserves in our Commonwealth waters (the national marine reserve network) which lie beyond state waters and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The network of marine reserves is proposed to cover 36% of Australia’s commonwealth waters, of which 13% will become marine national park (aka protected from fishing and other extractive uses). The proposed Coral Sea Marine Reserve is part of that network, and once established will protect one of the last remaining intact tropical ocean ecosystems in the world; where populations of large ocean predators – sharks, tunas, and marlin – have not been severely reduced.
The announcement by the Australian government to create a marine national park in the Coral Sea of more than half a million square kilometres is a very significant step forward for ocean conservation in Australia and globally. The Coral Sea is a very special place. Not only is this a significant step forward for shark and big fish (pelagic) conservation, the reefs of the Coral Sea are also very unique. These isolated pinnacles of coral rise to the surface on the top of undersea mountains and provide important habitat and ‘stepping stones’ for ocean voyagers such as sea turtles, sharks, seabirds and whales on journeys across the Pacific.