"The Great Barrier Reef, argues Iain McCalman, has been created by human minds as well as coral polyps, by imaginations as well as natural processes. In this landmark book he charts our shifting perceptions of it, from the terrifying labyrinth that almost sunk Cook's Endeavour to a fragile global treasure. The Reef describes twelve key encounters between people, places, ideas and biosystems. In the nineteenth century the region was infamous for shipwrecks, and when Indigenous clans rescued survivors like Eliza Fraser, their actions were misrepresented in the popular press. Later, the whole world caught the fiery debate between Darwinists and creationists over the origins of this colossal structure. Artists and visionaries celebrated its beauty and fought its exploitation; marine scientists catalogued the threats to its existence." --Publisher description.