Proving that coral nurseries can help speed up regeneration of the Great Barrier Reef is motivating marine biologist Azri Saparwan to rally an army of volunteers for the cause.
Azri spends some 10 hours a week coordinating more than 40 coral crusaders to help clean and measure coral growing on frames at Fitzroy Island in the Great Barrier Reef’s first offshore nursery.
“I have volunteered on similar projects in the Maldives and Singapore so am keen to see coral successfully grown here on the Great Barrier Reef,” he says.
“This island is my home, as I have been working at Fitzroy island Resort for two years, so I wanted to do something to help the reef here.”
Azri has been volunteering for the Reef Restoration Foundation’s coral trees project since the offshore nursery was in its planning phase.
“Now I take care of the administrative side of things with the volunteers and go out with them to check the coral, clean it and take measurements of its growth.
“In summer, this means either I or diving instructor Pablo Cogollos go out once a week with a team to monitor the coral trees, but in winter growth is slower, so it is around every 10 days.”
Many of the volunteers are from the local dive community and all are passionate about doing something for the place in which they work. Others come from further away, including Perth.
“The coral is growing well which is really exciting, as we are getting closer to planting them in new colonies. It must be like waiting for your children to grow up and go out into the world,” Azri says.