What’s New in the Great Barrier Reef in 2020

The Great Barrier has been showing significant signs of recovery in recent years, and vacationing to this natural wonder is still a major bucket-list destination for many travelers. This year, Queensland is rolling out new sustainable ways for people to visit and explore this unique region.

Snorkelers and divers will rejoice with the new Ngaro Underwater Sculpture Trail. The sculptures have been installed in The Whitsundays’ Great Barrier Reef Marine Park – in Langford Reef, Blue Pearl Bay, Manta Ray Bay and Horseshoe Bay – and the trail will open this month.

The sculptures offer not only a unique experience for divers, but they will also provide bases for new coral growth and shelter for fish. Local artists crafted beautiful pieces that represent different facets of the region like the Hawksbill turtle, a Maori Wrasse, Aboriginal symbols and the installation of the single largest underwater sculpture, the ‘Manta Ray’ by Adriaan Vanderlugt.

Also within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and opening in April 2020 is The Museum of Underwater Art. Jason deCaires Taylor, along with several local and Indigenous artists, will provide art pieces to showcase the conservation efforts and local culture in the area.

One of the first exhibits, ‘Ocean Siren,’ will open on the Strand in Townsville and will feature a girl who is solar-powered and changes color with the rising temperatures. ‘Coral Greenhouse’ will open on John Brewer Reef and will provide a new site for coral before the spawning season.

By the end of the year, the third installment is set to open on Palm Island and feature tales of the local Indigenous community. The site is set to only be accessible with an official tour guide to boost tourism in the area. The final installation is expected to open at Geoffrey Bay on Magnetic Island in early 2021.

A new program ‘Marine Biologist for Day + Astronomer for a Night,’ is also being launched by Sunlover Reef Cruises. The program gives a guided snorkeling tour where participants help to record data by observing the health of the reef and identifying marine organisms.

Information collected is stored in the “Eye on the Reef” program organized by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. After experiencing what it’s like to be a marine biologist, participants then get to sleep under the stars, learn about different constellations and practice what it’s like to be an astronomer.

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