Like 11 million others in the UK, on Sunday night I was once again glued to BBC1 for the latest instalment of Blue Planet II. This time the spotlight was on coral reefs – and the bustling colourful life which inhabits them, from the chameleon-like cuttlefish hypnotising its prey to the terrifying Bobbit worm – a cross between a killer woodlouse and Jabba the Hutt.
There was a sombre tone though as the episode concluded. In a series exploring the incredible life of our seas, it is hard to also ignore the devastating damage being done to them. Sunday’s episode featured a similarly grave warning; the camera panning across a ghostly landscape of bleached coral as David Attenborough solemnly reminded us why we must act now.
It’s a warning already heeded by organisations such as The Travel Foundation. In this week’s issue we explore their work to protect the colourful reefs of the Caribbean plagued by the spread of the invasive and venomous-spined lionfish. The foundation is focused on training fishing communities to catch the lionfish safely, encouraging fishers to partner with hotels and restaurants and build a supply chain. Through working together, fish populations will be allowed to flourish and the livelihoods of the fishing communities protected.
It’s a partnership that wouldn’t be out of place in a Blue Planet episode. Who can forget last week’s “turtle spa”, where the reptiles jostled to be cleaned by small fish – giving the turtles “stress relief” and their groomers an easy dinner. Or the teamwork of the octopus and grouper fish, which lure prey into one another’s mouths.
Bringing together stakeholders in a successful partnership is something often demonstrated by the travel industry. The theme was also prevalent at last week’s World Travel Market London. From Tunisia’s impending agreement with the EU, which will open up both its skies and tourism industry, to Palestine’s launch of a new tourism council, bringing together tour operators and hoteliers to promote the destination.
Sometimes in travel, like on the coral reef, it’s only through working together that we can thrive.