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that one party included more than twenty collectors, who arrived at Fairfax
Island from Lady Musgrave Island by boat . 33 Those activities, even if sporadic,
probably inflicted significant damage during the shelling visits.
Despite its protected status, Green Island reef continued to suffer degradation
from over-collecting. One report of 1958 stated that the reef 'is being stripped
by unthinking day trippers and other visitors. At low tide they swarm on the
reef with buckets and bags and cart away living coral and shells' . 34 No reduction
in that activity was apparent by 1973, when another report stated: 'On a recent
visit to Green Island I was appalled to see the number of people returning to the
mainland with plastic bags full of coral and shells' . 35 T he collection of shells for
jewellery manufacture was described as follows:
[Ron and Mary Rogan] were noted in many parts of the world for the
distinctive hand-made jewellery they produced, all of it featuring shells of the
Great Barrier Reef. At this time of year the yardman, Jolly McKay, spent some
hours each day searching for shells, making a tour of the beaches as the tide
went out for specimens washed up, then paddling the reefs in old sandshoes,
turning over blocks of coral, thus exposing clusters of tiny living shell-fish.
(Noonan, 1962, p105)
Further damage from shell collecting at Green Island, and at Michaelmas Cay,
were reported in The Cairns Post in 1972. Damage also occurred to corals, as a
result of shell collectors failing to replace overturned coral boulders; in particular,
the 'intense depredation by shell collectors' on fringing reefs to the north of
Cairns was reported by Isobel Bennett to be so severe that very little living coral
remained on the reef s. 36
By 1974, degradation due to shell collecting had also been reported at Lizard
Island. In that year, describing changes in the Lizard Island reefs, Roger Steene
I have been a constant visitor to the Island and its adjacent reefs for the past
eighteen years and environmental changes seem to be ever increasing since
the establishment of the aerodrome and the discovery of the island as a good
anchorage and camping area. During my earlier visits, the Mauritania cowrie
shell was abundant on the fringing reef on the east side of the island. As time
went by and this knowledge became widespread, collectors and others took
them until recently, I was not able to find a single specimen. I actually saw a
group who had a box with 150 of these shells to sell. Two years ago, I counted
seventeen in a half day perio d. 37
Also in 1974, Steve Domm, the Director of the Lizard Island Research Station,
reported that a charter boat had been at Lizard Island for a week 'with much shell
collecting going on, also a small clam had been killed and eaten, plus earlier
someone removed a giant clam from the lagoon' . 38 I n response to the increasing
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