Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Nothing To Do With Hockey

This entry has absolutely nothing to do with hockey one bit, but I figured I needed the help of the readers of this site. Why? Because you guys rule. I decided to enter into the running for "The Best Job In The World". You may have heard of this - Tourism Queensland in Australia is offering a six-month contract to someone who will blog about all the cool stuff that happens on and around the islands of the Great Barrier Reef. Well, I decided that I wanted this opportunity.

There's a lot that goes on behind the monitor where I write. I take pride in the environment and doing green, environmental things. I reduce, reuse, and recycle as often as I can, and I rarely just "throw stuff out". Being green takes a little effort, but it has so many benefits - saving money, saving the world, less greenhouse gases - and that's important to all of us, even if you don't believe in the science of it.

I like to have fun. Everyone does. And I really think this job will be fun. But - and let me make this entirely clear - I will never take this job for granted. Much like I do on this blog, I will report and give my opinion. I will make jokes and have fun stuff available for you to peruse. I will dedicate myself to this new endeavour as much as I dedicate myself here.

Secondly, I volunteer at my local zoo in the Education Department, and there is an extreme need to help save the Great Barrier Reef. It is one of the most important ecological habitats in the ocean for animals and coral species, and it is being eliminated at an alarming rate. The Reef is home to over 1500 species of fish and 400 hard and soft coral species. Changing the environment in the slightest way not only impacts the fish species, but significantly affects the coral species of the Reef.

Why is it suffering? For starters, coral shouldn't be handled with bare hands or stood upon for any reason. It is a living organism, and should be treated as such. I mean, you don't want somebody wiping their feet on your cat or dog, do you? The oils on our skin can actually cause problems with the coral polyps' mucous membranes, and the coral will stop feeding if it feels threatened.

Coral also suffers from man-made problems like pollution, fishing, and anchors. Pollution includes sewage, fertilizer, oil spills, and the dumping of various chemicals and sediments in the rivers and ocean. Fishing methods cause bleaching of the coral - a dangerous and lethal problem for coral. Anchors will break apart the coral skeleton when they are dragged or land upon coral reefs. In all three cases, the organisms making up the reef almost entirely die.

Secondly, coral has predators like every organism on the planet. Crown-of-thorns starfish are the largest predator of coral in the Great Barrier Reef. There is usually a very delicate balance between predator and prey so as to not upset the balance of life in the Reef, but occasionally the starfish have a population explosion where they will consume the coral faster than it can rebuild itself. At times, divers have been encouraged to pick the starfish off the coral to help preserve it, but this should only be done by someone trained in how to remove the crown-of-thorns starfish as they are covered with poisonous spines.

Combined, these reasons are causing the Great Barrier Reef to diminish in size at an alarming rate. While it's hard to judge how much has been lost, there is a definite realization that it is smaller than what it was just a decade ago.

Why is the Great Barrier Reef so important? I mean, it's just a coral reef, right? It's a spectacular vision from under the water, but does it serve any purpose other than being an ocean piece of artwork?

You bet it does. It's a protective area for fish and micro-organisms. Large predators such as sharks and whales can't get into the small crevices of the coral reef, providing protection for a large number of those 1500 fish species. The area between the outer and inner edges of the Reef acts as a place for fish to spawn and for eggs to develop into the next generation of fish.

Those gorgeous beaches you see in pictures of Australia? Protected by the Great Barrier Reef as well. The Reef acts as a cushion to protect Australia's shorelines from the ocean waves that come crashing in. The outer edge of the Reef absorbs the impact of the wave, and the water settles by the time it reaches the beaches along the coastline.

It also acts as a regulator for the ocean. If you've ever looked after a pool, you know there is a large amount of work that goes into it in terms of maintaining the pH levels and cleanliness. Leave a pool for too long, and it can become green, dirty, covered in algae, and have low pH. Put too much chlorine in, and it becomes impossible to swim in. The Great Barrier Reef looks after this part of keeping the ocean beautiful by helping to regulate the amount of calcite and aragonite in the ocean water.

This will feel like a chemistry lesson here, but bear with me. The calcium carbonate in the coral skeletons of the Reef are actually more vulnerable to disappearing with falling pH levels. As the concentration of the carbonate ions fall from supersaturated levels, the pH level drops in the ocean. It's a delicate balance.

When carbonate becomes undersaturated, structures made of calcium carbonate - skeletons of coral, for example - begin to dissolve in the water in order to bring the balance of carbonate ions in the water back up. Essentially, as the water becomes more acidic, the coral reefs are sacrificed to bring the water back to its neutral state.

Wow. Ok, so you made it this far. And you're probably asking yourself why you're still here, right? This is the important part where you come in.

I need you. I need you to help me. I need you to vote for me so that I can put my beliefs into action in Australia. If you vote for me, I will be eternally grateful for your help. I can't give you anything or send you anything as a "thank you", but I really appreciate the help you can provide.

Outside of hockey, this is my second major passion, and I really would like the opportunity to show off this other side of me to the world.

So, will you help me? Click here to vote for me. Granted, it's not the best video or the most entertaining, creative video, but it's me chatting about why I'd like the job.

That is all. More hockey to come shortly. We now return you to your regularly-scheduled hockey blog.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Kirsten said...

As an environmental science major, this is excellent. I will totally vote for you.

Anonymous said...

so would I