My First Film: Beige Reef (Jennifer Marohasy)

Reposted from Jennifer Marohasy’s Blog

November 14, 2019 By jennifer

FRENCH military general Napoleon Bonaparte is quoted as saying that, “A good sketch is better than a long speech.” Then there is the expression, ”A picture is worth a thousand words.”

So, why have I spent so much of the last two decades writing, rather than sketching or painting or better still making movies — given my often overwhelming desire to communicate something.

I have sometimes placed ‘illustrations’ with my words, most usually time series charts that describe relationships by way of the number plane. I intend to keep doing this, and I am still working closely with Jaco Vlok on an historical temperature reconstruction for Australia that will include so many ‘sketches’ as time series charts of monthly temperate data.

But over the next couple of years I also want to support Peter Ridd as he battles James Cook University through the courts, and more generally communicate the beauty and resilience of the main point of contention: the Great Barrier Reef.

The best medium for doing this is surely underwater cinematography?

Back in April, I showed you some of my underwater snap shots from duck-diving off Bowen.

In that blog post I also wrote:

“Someone needs to go down with a good camera and a tank of oxygen and get extensive footage that shows the great diversity, and all the fish – there might even be a crocodile hiding somewhere.”

By August I had found that someone, Clint Hempsall. He has spent a lifetime capturing the beauty, the sometimes raw horror, and the resilience of life beneath the waves.

We loaded his camera gear into my land cruiser at Noosa and drove the 1,000 kilometres to Bowen. Clint filmed non-stop, and we now have so much footage of so many inshore reefs, including the reef with the crocodile.

This adventure would not have been possible without Rob McCulloch. Between so many overseas trips where he skippered important people on three-storey boats, Rob found time to discussed logistics for Bowen with me, and told me he would be there and with a boat from the very beginning. He is the perfect Skipper, and a great friend.

I am planning to make a lot more short documentaries — not just of these inshore reefs for which we already have footage including interviews with Peter Ridd at Bramston Reef — but also of more colourful corals in clearer waters at the outer ribbon reefs and from coral cays.

I have just confirmed a next adventure for January 2020. That diving and filming will be from a bigger boat and I will have a compressed air tank on my back.

This blog post, however, is about my very first film, it is about Beige Reef.

I still remember so vividly the dappled light and the rocking of the tide as I floated over the corals at this inshore reef in the north facing bay of Stone Island.

After snorkelling with Walter Starck, I launched my drone and some of that footage features in Beige Reef.

This was only the second time I had flown a drone from a boat, and conditions were thankfully calmer than the day before when there was quite a swell but I still managed to launch and catch. Rob filmed my very first launch, and he will be showing this to his Facebook friends in the next week or so.

Beige reef is a fringing coral reef of approximately 25 hectares in warm and shallow waters at the entrance to Bowen Harbour. It is an inshore reef that according to the scientific literature should not exist, as I explain in Beige Reef.

I am also grateful to the B. Macfie Family Foundation for their continuing financial support, and also to the Institute of Public Affairs especially John Roskam and Scott Hargreaves.

The film was shown just yesterday to some IPA members in Brisbane, and the first launch of Beige Reef was to a small group in the IPA board room in Collins Street in Melbourne.

Consider joining the IPA at, so that you know about my next short documentary, and have the opportunity to join-in at future events.

Jennifer Marohasy with Emmy Award winning cinematographer Clint Hempsall in Melbourne at the first launch of Beige Reef.

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November 14, 2019 6:17 pm

Incredible video
Thank you

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Chaamjamal
November 14, 2019 8:48 pm

As a technical note to folks who aren’t used to YouTube settings, use 1080p HD resolution playback if your internet connection and device can support it. The video resolution selection is under the sprocket symbol in the lower right next to the YouTube logo. Otherwise use the highest res your connection and device can playback without hanging.
The video’s Jennifer took are very nice at 1080p.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
November 15, 2019 4:24 am

Jennifer looks pretty good even at 360p. A fine looking woman. Many thanks for her efforts we sorely need some ground truth about the reef to counter the alamist BS claims: like that which got Peter Ridd sacked.

More power to them both , many thanks for showing what is really going on.

Boulder Skeptic
November 14, 2019 6:52 pm

I was privileged to to dive the GBR and Coral Sea for a week on a live-aboard from Cairns in Jan 2015. I took a considerable amount of underwater video over the week. After all i had heard about the demise of the GBR, I was blown away by the health of the reefs. I’m reminded of the scene in Monty Python’s ‘Holy Grail’– known to many as ‘bring out your dead’ where one character keeps saying ‘I’m not dead yet’ and others respond that ‘you soon will be’. I plan to go back soon to see for myself if there have been noticeable changes over the last 5 years. Not scientific, but want to see it with my own eyes. It’s too easy for those on the climate crisis gravy train to convince people that far away places that they will never visit are already destroyed–drumming up more funding it seems at least in some cases (as Dr Marohasy mentioned in this video).

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Boulder Skeptic
November 14, 2019 7:50 pm

The best way to do that is to go after their recent peer-review literature claims. Go directly to locations they reference and document it both from the air and close up by diving. Fact check it with hard video.

“[Professor Terry Hughes (JCU) performed in 2016] aerial surveys, combined with underwater measurements, found that 67 percent of the corals had died in a long stretch north of Port Douglas, and in patches, the mortality reached 83 percent.”

Hughes reported this in Nature in 2017 after the 2015-2016 El Nino warmth.

That’s where I’d go after that first. See if the bleaching is still there and the magnitude. At this point in ‘almost 2020’, I’d bet most has recovered.

Reply to  Boulder Skeptic
November 15, 2019 7:38 am

I too have had the opportunity to dive the GBR out of Cairns. Lots of stinging things, don’t touch the snails.
There is an occurring issue that is perhaps indicative of alarmist ignorance. Perhaps due to their ignorance, geographic and otherwise, they keep picking sights whose condition can easily be ascertained and found not to be as reported.

November 14, 2019 7:14 pm

Great video!

Seeing is believing.

Joel O'Bryan
November 14, 2019 7:18 pm

Very nice video. Exposing the acropora lie about its absence at Bramstom Reef won’t make the consensus enforcers happy. Which is good. Making consensus enforcers unhappy and discomforted is what needs to happen… in spades.

Also on the drone, glad to see Jeniifer got that. If she buys another she should see about procuring in the US, and having a friend ship to you via some personal personal mailing as a gift (I didn’t say that, that would be a customs violation).
The same drone bought in Europe or Japan is quite limited in transmitter power and thus range compared to the exact same US (FCC cert) model.

I have the new DJI Mavic 2 Pro bought in US and meets FCC parameters (all figures are EIRP):
the drone’s transmitter power is: 26 dBm (2.4 GHz), 26 dBm (5.8 GHz)
the smart controller xmit power: 21.5 dBm (2.4 GHz), 21 dBm (5.8 GHz)

Australia imports the CE (Europe standard) certified DJI drones:
– drone xmit power: 20 dBm (2.4 GHz), 14 dBm.
– smart controller xmit power: 18.5 dBm (2.4 GHz), 13 dBm.

Those transmit power differences are huge and result in a greatly reduced operational range for the CE version compared to the US/Canada version. With a CE-certified model, I’ve read online that about 500 meters is the most range people can manage with their Mavic2 Quite sad for $1,500 drone in 2019.

With my Mavic2 I can easily operate out to 2 km with no loss of link to the controller including video in urban areas (lots of background WiFi), and I have taken out to 4 km in rural areas where no other WiFi presents background interference. The 4K video is amazing in depth of field and color (Mavic 2 Pro has a Hasselblad lens and much larger CCD tahn the previous model), and still shots in HDR camera mode with the drone in “tripod” mode and then the image ground-processed with Aurora software on my iMac are stunning in detail, even from quite distance.

If you really have big budget (~$10K US), I’d suggest buying the DJI Inspire 2. It has almost twice the range of my Mavic 2 and its max speed is 26 m/s (94 kph) versus 14 m/s (50 kph). The speed difference means it can handle itself (operate safely) in a windier marine environment than the Mavic2. You could cover a wide area of a large reef in 20 minutes with high res stills and 4 K video. Move a few km, and take another 20-25 minutes, and keep going. In a few weeks, you could have enough coverage to completely debunk a lot of garbage consensus on the GBR, at least that which you could get there by day boat.

November 14, 2019 8:04 pm

But how can that be?? After all, 93% of the reef is damaged!
That can’t be propaganda can it? Tell me it ain’t so…

November 14, 2019 8:23 pm

Slightly off topic, but I have been reading a 1939 version of ‘A Textbook of Geology – Part 1 – Physical Geology’ by Longwell, Knopf and Flint. It explains that limestone shoals are built not by corals or by lime-secreting algae as was previously believed, but by the direct precipitation of the calcium carbonate from saturated seawater from the combined effects of the warm surface water and the removal of the carbon dioxide by algae, under the influence of sunlight.
Can someone tell me, is the building of limestone shoals (reefs) by direct precipitation from seawater in this way now accepted wisdom? If so, does it explain the growth of coral atolls (the diminution of which is now blamed on ‘climate change’ and ‘rising sea levels’)? If not, why not?

Clarky of Oz
November 14, 2019 8:25 pm

Not a diver by any means but I have very briefly snorkled at Green Island near Cairns and Port Douglas in North Queensland, Thailand and Mystery Island in the Coral Sea. Of all these Green Island was perhaps the most degraded due to trampling from thousands of tourists but still fantastic in deeper parts. Great to see Jennifer’s video put the lie to the death of the reef.

November 14, 2019 8:31 pm

Great work Jennifer and company!

I remember vividly snorkeling the reefs between Brampton Is and Carlisle Island back in 1970, not far from where you made this story.

And 4 subsequent snorkeling adventures to the inshore reefs around the Whitsunday group and inner GBR shelves over the ensuing 30 years never disappointed.

I don’t doubt that sections of this massive expanse of coral colonies get impacted by adverse events from time to time, and if anyone were so determined to find such “evidence”, they surely could.

But as to the accepted claims that “half the GBR is dead”, I call bullsh1t.

Roger Knights
November 14, 2019 9:06 pm

The debunking of the Nature article begins at 7:00.

November 14, 2019 9:26 pm

Brilliant – oi oi oi – yes the tide is turning from the Doomsdayer’s back towards those who search for the truth


Stephen W
November 14, 2019 9:34 pm

Either the scientists that study the GBR have no understanding that bleaching is in fact a survival mechanism.. or they’re being deliberately misleading.

They should be spreading the message far and wide the benefits of bleaching, how wonderful it is that corals can survive the massive heating the 2015/16 el nino brought. Bleaching helps coral survive by removing all the zooxanthellae, and they are then recolonised by new zooxanthellae more suited to the current conditions. Amazing, they can essentially change their own biology in response to stress. Animals would relocate when conditions are unfavourable. A tree would die. But corals would persist.

Unfortunately they would prefer the message get out, and help spread themselves, that the GBR is dead.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Stephen W
November 15, 2019 1:01 am

Dr. Ridd got fired for less than that.

Craig from Oz
November 14, 2019 9:47 pm

If this is what they looked like when they are dead, imagine how good they looked BEFORE they died.

Remember Kids – Models Don’t Lie(tm)


November 15, 2019 1:57 am

A lovely experience – thanks to Dr. Jennifer and her colleagues who made this film.

When I spent a week on a dive boat off Cairns in 2005, the corals appeared to be in excellent shape. These were deeper water corals, and we were snorkeling down to about 20 ft. depth. That works for me, because below about 20 ft. depth the colours disappear and everything looks blue.

The fish were beautiful – millions of small, brightly-coloured tropical fish were visible as soon as we hit the water, and surrounded us everywhere we swam. I saw only one sea turtle, and came face-to-face with a 5-ft. reef shark, who gave me a look and swam on – I think I heard him mutter “too old and tough”.

We saw no salt-water crocs – that would have scared me right out of the water. Sharks are OK; salt-water crocs, not so much.

I loved everything about Australia – if I were younger, I would move there.

November 15, 2019 2:20 am

I had an online conversation with an academic loosely associated with the paper, who stuck to the story that people like Marohassy and Ridd misdirect and mislead by not focussing on what’s been damaged by runoff. So the entire video above -to them -is misleading because it doesn’t highlight what’s been damaged, somewhere nearby. Merely pointing out that good coral cover actually occurs 30m from where the offical survey stopped, and suggesting they should have extended the survey, was ‘maligning’ (his word) the authors.

An army of Michael Mann-style academics are out there, seeing valid criticisms as offensive and empirical data as a misdirection. I don’t hold much hope for many of these individuals caught up within these modern scientific trends, but the public-well that’s different- eventually they just won’t stand for it, as in ‘You can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time’.

November 15, 2019 3:10 am

Go girl, we know the truth, and the facts. The big bad scary warming story will come to an end soon. The alarmists will be called out with their lies eventually. Looking out the window instead of hiding under a computer model will tell the story in the end. Go the ilk of yourself, Peter Ridd and all others concerned. We just need to to let the facts get in the way of hysteria.
I really appreciate Anthony and his followers to keep my check with reality.
Cheers Colin

November 15, 2019 4:12 am

I know the Australian are somewhat different to many nationalities . . .
but “Someone needs to go down with a good camera and a tank of oxygen .”” . . .

is NOT the thing to do : O2 is lethal stuff to humans (and Australians) at the wrong pressure or concentration, mix it up with 4 lots of Nitrogen and a few trace gases for best results on reefs, even better still is just use compressed air.

Best regards, and keep up the brilliant work

November 15, 2019 5:05 am

Go get them Jenifer, we need those as dedicated as you to stop this grant churn of bull dust coming out of Townsville.

November 15, 2019 5:14 am

“… Someone needs to go down with a good camera and a tank of oxygen and get extensive footage that shows the great diversity, and all the fish – there might even be a crocodile hiding somewhere. …”

That’s what AIMS long-term monitoring does with our tax-dollars for 3 months of every year Jenifer, since at least 1989 to present (from memory). They take video transects from mid-Jan to mid-April so maybe they found some living coral this year?

Bit of a long-shot.

November 15, 2019 5:30 am

they bitch about silt/runoff
but if you put barrages or dams there theyd scream louder
just cant win

Mickey Reno
November 15, 2019 8:38 am

Beautiful film, in every which way. I loved the part where you quoted Nature magazine.

Robert W Turner
November 15, 2019 9:03 am

Bravo. This is empirical and in the format that even a climate cultist can understand.

Diver coeur de lion
November 15, 2019 9:35 am

Compressed air not oxygen I hope – toxic below 2 atmospheres.

November 15, 2019 11:36 am

Splendid film – but where are the fish? Whenever I have dived on coral, it is teeming with fish.

Reply to  Hereward
November 15, 2019 3:46 pm

You need to take a closer look, there are a lot of fish in that video. Fish unfamiliar with humans hide in the reef as you get close, you can see them doing that in the video. Combine that with visibility that’s limited by near-shore turbidity and you can’t see fish swimming around in the middle-distance. On tidal flats (where this is) there are fewer fish around and fewer species of them. Reef fish aggregate on the fringe of a reef where there’s a lot of complex vertical structure and waters that are deeper than the low-tide level.

James Clarke
November 15, 2019 5:39 pm

Two thumbs up!

November 15, 2019 7:30 pm

Something Jenifer could also have mentioned is that Bowen was hit by the northern core winds of category 4 Tropical Cyclone Debbie, on 28th of March, 2017 – 2.5 years ago.

The cyclone struck to the south of Bowen at Airlie Beach, and this reef is ~15 km south of Bowen. Cat-2 sustained winds were experienced in Bowen itself. There’s footage of Debbie’s wind and waves hitting Bowen online. However, the winds were mostly offshore in the area of this reef so the destructive effects would have been much less nearer to shore on this NNE facing coastline. There was however an on-shore mild storm-surge and large waves at Bowen’s beach front and port (which faces approx SE).

As you can see whatever damage occurred to the reef from Debbie has already recovered and regrown.

comment image

Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie
Category 4 severe tropical cyclone (Aus scale)
Gusts: 250 km/h (155 mph)
Fatalities 14 total
Damage $2.73 billion (2017 USD)

Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie in 2017 was the strongest tropical cyclone to strike Queensland since Nathan in 2015, and was the costliest tropical cyclone in Australia since Yasi in 2011. Forming as a tropical low on 23 March, the low gradually intensified to a named tropical cyclone on 26 March. After steadily strengthening offshore to a Category 4 system, Debbie eventually made landfall near Airlie Beach, at 12:40 AEST on 28 March.[1] … This makes Debbie the deadliest cyclone to hit Australia since Fifi in 1991.[2]

So much for fragile near-shore coral reef! These in-shore corals grow like weeds, if the substrate is suitable.

“Middle-Reef” is another example of this, it’s in the middle of the channel between Townsville and Magnetic Island. It’s situated between a city of ~225,000 people and northern Australia’s busiest export port and an Island covered in suburbs within many of its bays.

Middle Reef Google Maps:,146.8451171,23038m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x697e06aa9ccac49d:0xd8145a9162d649c6!8m2!3d-19.1358653!4d146.8423556

If you look at “Cape Cleveland” protruding out on the SE coastline it is the Headquarters of the Federal, “Australian Institute of Marine Science” (AIMS) and is only about 15 km from Middle-Reef. While the Headquarters of the QLD, “Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority” (GBRMPA) is right beside the inner port area, only about 3 km from Middle-Reef. The JCU Townsville Campus is situated in land about 15 km to the SSW of Middle-Reef.

They all know about Middle-Reef, and the other nearby near-shore reefs.

They all know it’s healthy and recovered fast from Cat-4 Cyclone Yasi in Feb 2011 with sustained Cat-2 winds in Townsville and on Magnetic Island plus a significant storm-surge around low-tide as it pulled inland. They know is survived and recovered fast from the last El-Nino. They know how hardy and resilient such marginal coral reefs really are. These small near-shore inner reefs routinely bounce back from ‘wipe-out’ levels of damage (which humans could scarcely match if they tried to). And despite them being immediately beside a modern city, Middle-Reef continues to thrive.

But these public-funded ‘watermelon’ green- and red-tape machines (GBRMPA), the blind research orgs (AIMS), and a University’s Marine Biology Dept income is best served if they somehow fail to notice or draw attention or process such obvious off-script counterfactuals to their idiotic and plainly false doom and ‘pro-management’ narrative and agenda.

If you’ve ever been to Bowen you’d know the bay and coastline to the immediate south-east of the township is covered in thick dark smelly sucking mud. Waking in it is a definite bad idea. We kids sure gave it a try, but concluded the mud was so bad it was quite dangerous.

Jennifer’s healthy in-shore reef (previously discussed) is just to the SE of that huge area of near-coastal mudflats.

Almost anything Queenslanders’ could do to stress a coral reef is absolutely trifling to inconsequential compared to what the natural environment does to the coral on a routine basis. That’s the personally verifiable truth that must not be uttered by GBRMPA, AIMS or JCU. And ABC, SBS, Channel9 ‘WinTV’, the QLD Government and Federal Government, plus the ultra-left parasitic NGOs that are sucking the life-blood out of the taxpayers of this country, would all like it to remain that way thank you very much.

Reply to  WXcycles
November 15, 2019 8:01 pm

Cyclone Debbie

November 16, 2019 1:34 am

Did I see this correctly: the Nature article was dated 2015 but seemed to refer to something in 1994 – does that really mean no-one had looked at the place in the interval?

John Hutton
November 16, 2019 7:21 am

The sceptics suddenly are not sceptical. All commenters quickly agree Morahasy is correct.


Rich Davis
Reply to  John Hutton
November 16, 2019 9:52 am

Do you mean that the video is faked? What is your point?

A skeptic is one who questions claims that are not well-supported by evidence. Why should we be skeptical in the face of strong video evidence? Amazing.

Johann Wundersamer
November 24, 2019 3:01 pm
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