The wide-scale bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef was on the agenda at a major conference in Washington DC last week, with politicians and actors alike calling for the world to take action on the destruction of our oceans.
Leonardo DiCaprio, who leads National Geographic Channel’s new climate change documentary Before The Flood, was particularly vocal on the impact coral bleaching and global warming have had on the reef.
"This year, Australia's Great Barrier Reef suffered what is thought to be the largest bleaching event ever recorded,” the Oscar winner told the Our Oceans Conference in Washington DC.
"Over 600 miles [965 kilometres] of reef previously teeming with life is devastated. We are seeing this level of impact on coral reefs around the world."
Following Leonardo’s comments, both scientists and politicians have invited the actor to come to Australia and see the Great Barrier Reef for himself.
"He can come any time he likes, he's absolutely welcome to come to Australia, to come to Queensland and to come to the Great Barrier Reef," Queensland deputy premier Jackie Trad said last week in Brisbane.
"I know he's been there before and I really applaud his passion and his commitment to conserving and protecting the earth's oceans."
Heron Island, a coral cay in the southern Great Barrier Reef [Image: Flickr/ciamabue]
Meanwhile, not-for-profit groups and tourism operators have extended invitations for the actor to see the “real” reef.
“If Leonardo can see the current health of the Great Barrier Reef for himself, especially the largest and possibly the oldest coral colony here on the reef, he will be as shocked as we all are,” said Great Barrier Reef Legacy’s managing director John Rumney.
“Rather than being ushered and controlled by a government agency that has demonstrated it will do anything to put a spin in their favour, the reef needs to be first.”
Next month, National Geographic Channel will premiere a new documentary following Leonardo DiCaprio as he travels to five continents and the Arctic speaking to scientists, world leaders and other experts to address the issue of climate change and investigating practical solutions to the challenges.
Before The Flood premieres Sunday 30th October at 7.30pm AEST on National Geographic Channel