Reef guardian

HILTON resident Andrea Callaghan has been mesmerised by tropical reefs since her first dive as a 20 year old.

“Feeling weightless whilst scuba diving is an awesome feeling, but the best bit is the scenery; so many beautiful fascinating and amazing animals,” she says.

But the coral’s beauty is also it’s Achilles heel, as tourists tend to stomp all over it to get a closer look.

Ms Callaghan saw the stark impact while living and working in Tulamben, Bali, site of the world-famous diving wreck the USAT Liberty.

“Six years ago when I first dived it, it was absolutely magnificent,” she says.

• Andrea Callaghan says the underwater world is mesmerising. Photo supplied

“But over the years it has been degraded through big storms, coral bleaching and by the thousands of divers per year who accidentally kick that little bit of coral with their huge fins, tough the animals and photograph that miniscule seahorse or that huge groper 50 times to get the perfect shot…stunning them with thousands of lumens flashing the little creatures into blindness,” she says.

Overwhelmed by the destruction, she decided to try and educate people more about protecting the reefs, and developed a two-hour reef ecology education program.

Known as SeeREEF, it’s full of funny life stories and characteristics of the reef residents.

“Hopefully SeeREEF will also encourage us all to become active marine guardians, because the future of these magnificent coral ecosystems is dire,” she says.

Ms Callaghan will be rolling out SeeREEF on September 9 from 2 – 4.30pm at the Hamilton Hill Memorial Hall along with Cockburn council’s Sustainable Living Program. Tickets $5 from http://www.seereefbali.com. For more info on future screening call Ms Callaghan on 0421 246 866.

by STEVE GRANT

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