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Importance of Survival Skills

2019 Rolex Awards Associate Laureate : Emma Camp

2019 Rolex Awards Associate Laureate : Emma Camp


In the current trajectory
that we’re on it’s a real possibility
that in our lifetime the Great Barrier Reef,
at least as we know it, will be lost. During 2016 and 2017 about two thirds of the northern
Great Barrier Reef died, so we now think about 50% of the
Great Barrier Reef has been lost. Imagine the biggest
living structure on the planet we can see it from space knowing that we’ve been
responsible for its demise, it’s not even something
you really want to think about. When I was a child
I got to see a coral reef. I just couldn’t believe that
there was life under the water and I just thought
it was amazing and beautiful and this whole different world
just fascinated me. My research is basically
trying to find corals that are living in places
that we wouldn’t expect. I’ve discovered corals
living in mangrove lagoons. Quite hostile environments; very warm, very acidic
and very low oxygen conditions. This is interesting because this is what’s happening
under climate change. The fact that we’ve discovered
corals capable of doing that, it’s transforming our understanding of how corals can survive
into the future. Then on the outer reef
we have a nursery set-up. We take corals and we cut them
and put them on these racks and we allow them to grow and try to recover
some of the degraded areas. We already have over 3,000
outplants of multiple species. So having educators, corporates, tourism operators,
scientists and government all together
working on these solutions is the only way that we’re going to
actually be able to combat them. We’ve noticed huge impacts
on the reef due to very warm waters. We found out more
about the work Emma’s doing with corals in extreme environments. Fortunately she’s got a fantastic
position to provide some science to combat
the immediate effects. I want to know deep down
that I did everything I could and also that I encouraged
other people. This is my passion and I just can’t bear the thought
that I would have to tell my children that our generation
knew that it was dying and didn’t do anything to help it. I want to, through my research
and my actions, ensure the reef is conserved
into the future.

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