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The Bright Side of 2020: Queensland’s Top 5 Moments

December 17, 2020 QLD News No Comments

With less than 15 days to go before we finally close the doors on 2020, it’s time to remember that despite the challenges, this year has also brought us some incredibly beautiful moments that taught us to cherish the little things and always look on the bright side of life.

And before we ring in the new year, let’s take a trip down memory lane to revisit our top 5 moments of 2020:

  1. Ember the Bushfire Survivor was released back into the wild

Ember the koala was rescued and admitted to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital– one of the busiest wildlife hospitals in the world – during the tragic Australian bushfires in 2019. She was suffering burns to her footpads, smoke inhalation, dehydration, and starvation.

Since her admission, this little fighter has become a sign of hope around the globe after famously starring alongside Chris Hemsworth in National Geographic’s Born Wild: The Next Generation.

And after 67 days of treatment and rehabilitation, Ember went into care where she was eventually released back out into the wild where she’s been seen thriving. And this week, a little birdie told us Ember might have a joey in her pouch. Take that, 2020!

  1. Tourism Operators turn Coral Gardeners

With most international travellers stranded at home due to the global pandemic, tourism operators right along Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef banded together with marine scientists to use this downtime to help care for the Reef through a range of initiatives: from monitoring coral nurseries, to surveying fish life and planting coral.

In the Whitsundays, Reef Ecologic partnered with over twenty local tourism operators to help restore coral reefs at Blue Pearl and Manta Ray Bay that were damaged during Cyclone Debbie in 2017.

After some initial training, the team outplanted a record number of corals (over 950!) from established coral nurseries to the surrounding reefs, becoming frontline healthcare workers for Australia’s greatest natural asset, the Great Barrier Reef.

  1. Australia’s First Underwater Museum opened on the Great Barrier Reef

Just when you thought you’ve ticked off the nation’s best galleries and museums, Australia’s first underwater museum opened on the Great Barrier Reef in August this year.

Located in Townsville in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, the Museum of Underwater Art (MOUA) is a series of installations that offer a platform to share stories of art, science, Reef conservation and First Nations culture. Stage One of MOUA includes the underwater Coral Greenhouse installation at John Brewer Reef and the Ocean Siren sculpture at The Strand.

So, when the time is right, strap on your fins and snorkel and take some time out to explore this incredible underwater masterpiece.

  1. Unicorn of the Sea: Rare Ornate Eagle Ray Discovered

Often called the ‘unicorn of the sea’ by divers, ornate eagle rays are endangered and rarely seen – with only around fifty sightings recorded worldwide.

Earlier this year, Lady Elliot Island Master Reef Guide Jacinta Shackleton was one lucky diver when she spotted an ornate eagle ray while conducting research in the waters off Lady Elliot Island on the Great Barrier Reef.

“This unforgettable experience has made me aware of just how fortunate I am to have spent so much time immersed in nature and how lucky we are to have such a rich and vibrant variety of life right here in our own backyard,” said Ms Shackleton.

  1. Millions of butterflies flutter through Queensland

At the end of March, Queenslanders were treated to a spectacular show right outside their doorstep with millions of beautiful butterflies soaring through the skies of South East Queensland and the Gladstone region.

The mega migration was a beautiful antidote to the global pandemic and a timely reminder that while some of us were (and still are) cocooning at home, nature continues to thrive and amaze us, right on our doorstep.


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