Dr Sue Pillans, a Brisbane marine scientist and artist, has released her first children’s picture book .
Dr Sue Pillans, a Brisbane marine scientist and artist, has released her first children’s picture book .

Plea to save Great Barrier Reef

A MARINE biologist and artist hopes her new book will inspire children to take action to save the Great Barrier Reef from the effects of climate change.

Dr Sue Pillans, a former Samford State School and Ferny Grove State High School student who now lives at Camp Hill, has channelled her alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish to write and illustrate her first children's book The Great Barrier Reef Thief.

It is written from the perspective of a "feisty female fish" named Anthia who notices that her home on the reef is getting hot and the colours are disappearing.

Anthia and her friends embark on a quest to find The Great Barrier Reef Thief and return the colour to the reef.

Dr Pillans hoped despite the gloom and doom about the reef's future, her story would give children hope that they could do something to help.

Her key message was greenhouse gas emissions had to be cut now.

"I don't think it's too late, but we have to start now. We can't keep saying 'tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow'," she said.

"There are ways to save energy (such as turning off lights, walking instead of driving) and help the planet which will then help the reef."

It has taken her six years to get the story right.

"It's not as easy as people think. You have to make sure, when you are an author/illustrator, the words and pictures have to be as one," she said.

"There has to be highs and lows and resolution and problems.

"All that has to be there in a big adventure to keep children's attention.

"I had many iterations of this book and each publisher would say 'we really love the idea of it, however you can't tell children there is no hope'.

"It was really hard for me to provide a publisher with a story of hope and solutions.

"In the end my story is all about cooling down the oceans and how the fish all together find the thief and bring the colour back to the reef."

The last page is dedicated to the science behind climate change and coral bleaching, and solutions, written so children could understand.

It is suitable for all ages with the focus on children aged 4-10 years.

Go to drsuepillans.com/books/the-great-barrier-reef/