CHAPTER 7Make an Impact: The Great (Disappearing) Barrier Reef

Have you ever wanted to visit one of the seven natural wonders of the world?

Twenty‐five years ago, my husband and I stretched our tiny, newlywed budget and treated ourselves to a week in Airlie Beach in Queensland. (If you are looking at a map of Australia, or Oz as we Aussies affectionately call it, that's the pointy part on the right of the map.) We couldn't afford to stay at the fancy resorts on Hamilton Island, so we booked a room at Airlie Beach, a popular and cheap destination for backpackers making their way around Australia.

We enjoyed many day trips to the beautiful islands that form the Great Barrier Reef. One morning we traveled by boat for two hours to the Outer Reef, a less touristy part of the reef. When the boat stopped, we stood on the bow and looked down into the water. The water was alive with vivid colored corals and marine life. When we dove in the water with snorkel and fins, we were surrounded by the brightest colors you can ever imagine. It was like a scene from the movie Finding Nemo.

Fast forward to 2016, when my honey and I went back to Queensland. This time we were able to afford to stay at the fancy resort on Hamilton Island. We excitedly took a day trip back to almost the exact spot on the Outer Reef that we had experienced 25 years earlier. With snorkel and fins, we dove back in the water.

Where before there had been magnificent corals, starfish, and anemones, now there were bleached ...

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