Inspired television star inspires others

Monika Schlacher.
Image: Gary Cranitch


Thursday 19 November 2009
The CReefs Australia team has a celebrity among its ranks.
Soft corals expert Monika Schlacher was featured on Channel 10's children's television show Totally Wild this morning.
A Research Fellow with the Queensland Museum, Monika described soft corals to the show's young audience and explained her involvement with the international Census of Marine Life, of which CReefs Australia is a part.
"It's important for kids to see this. It's a positive outlook for them with all the stories around about climate change and pollution," she said.
Monika knows better than anyone the power of television to inspire children.
As a young girl she followed the ocean adventures of French biologist and explorer Jacques Cousteau and his Austrian counterpart, diving pioneer and documentarian Hans Hass.
As a 7-year-old child, she watched their escapades on the television and dreamt of one day becoming a marine biologist.
While out one day visiting a coffee shop with her mother in her hometown of Vienna, Monika spotted her hero, Hans Hass.
"I said to my mother, 'Look! There's Hans Hass,'" she said.
"My mother said, 'would you like to meet him?' I didn't think he would want to talk to me. But we went over to him and my mother told him about how I wanted to become a marine biologist. He said it was a good idea. He was really nice."
As part of a three-year Australian Biological Resources Study/CReefs Australia grant supported by BHP Billiton, Monika has joined the CReefs Australia team to collect soft corals that will feature in an online catalogue with detailed descriptions and photos.
At the Queensland Museum, Monika works in the Sessile Marine Invertebrates section, which is part of the museum's Centre for Biodiversity.
Totally Wild produces news-type stories on topics such as Australia's native animals and plants, action sports, the environment, science and technology.