Reflection and Proposition Toward Coral Bleaching At The Great Barrier Reef


The drafted proposal had a good foundation. From the foundations of research into the changes of coral reefs along the Queensland coast, stakeholder influence and understanding, to the targeted audience, the peer feedback suggested a clear understanding to where the design action was headed. The colleague and I conversed on the functionality of the design solution questioning how the data visualisations will be resolved? What will make the proposition intriguing to the suggested audience? Is it possible to collect data in a more efficient and accurate way? Through clear analysis of the findings and filtering through statistical or conceptual findings the data should be resolved through a series of interconnected information visualisations. The colleague referenced the tool of ‘processing’  through code to interpret mass forms of data and scaling them accurately to achieve the desired result. Particularly through the use of API, CSV tools to filter through the research and develop a visual solution that is well informed.

Another point of feedback highlighted the need to close in on a specified response for the desired audience. Understanding the design solution, its functionality, usability and relevance to the audience will allow for a more well thought out and refined design solution. Whilst the proposition understood the issue in a clear way, or possibilities to change through the use of data visualisation and information graphics, the 3D application of this was somewhat vague. Through understanding user activities, designing for catalogue, book or instillation application were discussed to resolve this problem.

Overall, the discussion of possible ways to organise and collect statistics and research for the information visualisations allowed me to refine the way these information graphs could be applied. Thus allowing for the refinement of the design proposal.


Refined Design Proposal

The Catalogued Death of the Barrier Reef

Practice Type

Illustrating the eventual death of the Great Barrier Reef, will looking at time, colour and relationships through information visualisation. Data graphics, charts and keys communicating the issue of Coral Bleaching at the Great Barrier Reef.

The Issue

Coral bleaching affects marine species and habitats of the northern region of Australia, particularly the biodiversities and ecosystems that live on the 2300km of the great barrier reef. The coral bleaching affects the 600 types of soft and hard coral of the region and the variety of species that live and interact with the area. The issue is bound by the lack of education of governments, coastal communities and recreational users of the ocean prompting over-fishing, over-tourism, and disposal of waste in the area, thus disturbing the natural balance of life within the habitats and ecosystems interacting with the area. Eventually, the cause of the coral bleaching lies in the hands of these built systems all inextricably reliant on the ocean. Ocean conservation is urgent and imperative in these areas, the ocean is the being of all life and without it all life may perish or be harmed, from ecosystems in water to on land.

Future generations, impacted by the capitalistic and consumerist society of today are the main stakeholders effected in this transition period of climate change. With a tally of three mass deaths of coral fisheries around the world it is imperative to understand the trends in deaths, directly impacted by human behaviour and in turn visually understanding the deterioration, erosion and suffocation of the massacred coral fisheries. Approaching the issue in a new way may be communicated through understanding, temperature, light, colour, oxygen, shape, texture and body of these habitats.

  • Climate change is evident through the changing patterns of sea temperature increase, altered weather patterns, ocean acidification and sea levels rising.
  • Coral bleaching is impacted by coastal development and catchment modification: clearing and modifying coastal habitats, artificial barriers to flow, and disposal and resuspension of dredge material.
  • Changes to reef environments through land-based run-off, nutrients from run-off (including its links to crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks), sediments and pesticide run-off.
  • The remaining impacts of fishing, illegal fishing, collecting and poaching, incidental catch of species of conservation concern, effects on discarded catch, retained take (extraction) of predators, and retained take (extraction) from unidentified or unprotected spawning aggregations alter coral reef environments.
  • Finally marine debris both on land and from sea sources.

Overall, the prominent stakeholders impacted by the issue are coral species and the marine life surrounding. Looking at the issue, species by species, colour by colour, form by form will communicate the death of the reef in a new way.

Possibility to Change

Understanding coral bleaching will be successful with change. To measure the success of the design solution will be reliant on evoking urgency. The solution will be illustrating trends in a new way, educating audiences efficiently, showing time, showing change, showing rhythm or sound through multiple information visualisations that work complimentary to each other. Whilst looking at the coral reef as a whole, the prospect of understanding the deaths is masked. By looking at the trajectory of the death of specified species in a coral reef habitat and furthermore relating this to time, colour and form will show a more poetic response to the issue.

Design Action

Experimentation & Visualisation

Through the visualisations of time, colour and relationships of the reef, I have developed a design action that can be used as a coastal package of sorts to be used or employed within the tourist industry of the proposed area, North and Central Queensland coast. The action will be incorporated and tied into a catalogue or information booklet prototype, tourist cards or an instillation piece by the sea or near diving. Targeting the 18-25 year travellers, both localised and international will require sensitive and engaging forms of information graphics, localised to the great barrier reef. The Information prototypes will be integrated into the system of tourism and delivered as a sort of coral reef package for all users of the reef.

The graphics will be outspread. Audiences will be able to pick up information cards sprawled in with post card stands, or tourist offices of the area. Information booklets and posters of up and coming trends, outlook reports, packaged in a practical tote bags will be offered within the tourist industry, abroad diving ships, tours and/or any other recreational practice. Products of which audiences are able to unpack and interact with can  provide a more physical understanding of context and urgency toward the issue of coral bleaching. To eradicate tourism on the reef would harm livelihoods of the area, nonetheless integrating educational systems through well resolved prototypes of which the suggested audience are willing to take on induce investment into the issue and eventually motivation for change for future generations.

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