Blog Post

Marine Biologist For A Day – Inspiring The Next Generation of Reef Warriors

Rachel Holliday

TNQ Writer

Ever wondered what it’s like to be a marine biologist on the Great Barrier Reef? Sunlover Reef Cruises’ Marine Biologist For a Day Program allows future generations to literally dive into the role.

As far as office environments go, Pablo Cogollos has got it pretty great. While most of us spend hours at our desks dreaming of swimming with turtles and aqua oceans, for him it’s pretty much a given.

In his role as a marine biologist for Sunlover Reef Cruises he spends his 9-5 sharing his passion and knowledge of the largest coral reef system in the globe which he fondly refers to as ‘his garden’.

Us? Jealous? Never.

“I spend every day in the biggest living structure in the world” he said. “I love to teach people about the reef and make them excited about the most diverse ecosystem in the world”.

Pablo showing students how to participate in the “Eye On The Reef” program

Students enjoy a guided snorkel tour to monitor a selected area of Moore Reef

Spotting a turtle on the snorkel safari is a highlight

Hailing from Madrid, Pablo grew up dreaming of being a marine biologist on The Great Barrier Reef. Fast forward through a Marine Biology degree and a move across the globe and he is pretty much the definition of #careergoals.

For the past three years, he has enjoyed sharing the beauty of the world’s largest coral reef system with guests from every corner of the world.

So what is the most rewarding part of his job? The answer is short and simple: “changing and inspiring people”.

“My favourite days at work are when I do the Marine Biologist for a Day program. When it comes to educating others about the reef, the new generation are the most important as they are going to look after the reef in the future”.

Pablo gives presentations in the underwater observatory on Sunlover's Moore Reef Pontoon

“My favourite days at work are when I do the Marine Biologist for a Day program. When it comes to educating others about the reef, the new generation are the most important as they are going to look after the reef in the future”.

Sunlover Reef Cruises’ “Marine Biologist For a Day” program encourages groups of individuals to monitor the health of the Outer Barrier Reef.

Although the experience is available to groups of all ages and backgrounds, it’s a hit with school children and those studying at university.

Groups are hosted by Pablo from start to finish and enjoy an insight into the working life of a marine biologist on The Great Barrier Reef.

The highlight of the experience is a one and a half hour guided snorkel tour, on which they monitor a selected area of Moore Reef and collect data to be used for the government’s “Eye On The Reef” program. This is a reef monitoring and assessment program ran by the Great Barrier Reef Park Authority.

Children fill out a ‘rapid monitoring survey’ which uses a monitoring slate to record health observations on various aspects of the reef.  This includes tallying various marine creatures, analysing the coral health and looking for any environmental impacts such as litter.

Touch tank presentations help to communicate important messages about reef health

Getting below the surface on a snorkel safari

Students recording their findings for the government’s “Eye On The Reef” program

As well as collecting data to make a difference on the health of the reef, the young reef enthusiasts are also educated on the various sea creatures present at Moore Reef.

“We teach them about the iconic animals of the reef and the important ecological roles they have”, Pablo states.

Although the ‘Marine Biologist for a Day’ program sounds like the most fun school excursion ever, it also has a more serious side.

Pablo aims to teach the youngsters about the environmental impacts on The Great Barrier Reef and how they can lower their carbon footprint in their everyday lives.

“Every coral reef around the world is under threat. Kids can fix it in the future and can fix their habits at an early age to be more environmentally friendly. It’s incredible how they listen and follow advice”.

There is something about Pablo’s love for the reef that is infectious to the younger generation. Through the program, he hopes to spark a passion in the kids for reef conservation and hopes that many of them will go on to become marine biologists themselves.

“I could be a scientific diver, but that wouldn’t impact people”, he states.

The budding marine biologists may leave with a certificate of appreciation, but it is the knowledge they take that truly holds the key to the future of The Great Barrier Reef.

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