Letters to the Editor: Save the planet. Read Thor Heyerdahl’s book. Become a marine!
By David R. Harris
The Great Barrier Reef is one of nature’s great and stunning achievements. It is also suffering catastrophic failure.
Most marine-ecology enthusiasts are familiar with the reef’s “welcome wagon” effect, which means that visitors tend to visit the most popular places in the marine environment, even when those places are showing signs of severe decline.
Those visitors then often stay longer and spend more money to return, often leaving a trail of disenchanted fish, water birds and marine life when the next “welcome wagon” arrives. They also leave a more damaged or degraded habitat for other visitors.
“The coral reef is like a long-distance telephone book,” says Prof. Thor Heyerdahl, a marine-ecology expert at the University of Miami. “We need to be able to read the book and understand its entire contents at some point in the future.”
Heyerdahl’s book, “The Great Barrier Reef: The Remarkable and Enduring Legacy of Nature’s Greatest Reef”, describes the enormous natural beauty, diversity and remarkable environmental resilience of the reef and offers some hope for the future.
A long-time environmentalist, Heyerdahl is one of the leading marine ecologists in the world and one of the world’s leading environmental educators. Heyerdahl has dedicated his career to understanding how the reef fits into the larger context of marine health and, in particular, how humans fit within such a complex and diverse natural system.
Heyerdahl’s first book, “The Ecology of the Great Barrier Reef,” was published in 1996 and quickly became a classic among environmental books. Two years later, Heyerdahl teamed up with