Popular Science

The longest Great Barrier Reef study chronicles a century of devastation

Ecologists have documented the Great Barrier Reef's growth and decline since 1928.
Ecologists have documented the Great Barrier Reef's growth and decline since 1928. (Pixabay/)

Almost 100 years ago, a group of scientists in the United Kingdom studied coral reefs in the Low Isles off the coast of Port Douglas, Australia. Equipped with a bulky metal diving helmet that more resembled a bucket, they spent hours underwater, creating detailed sketches—while submerged—with a wooden pencil on roughened glass so large, they could draw to scale. Most of these were illustrated by a single woman diver on the team. These sketches depicted complex and diverse communities

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