Reef at heart of new venture for Wendy Morris

Published Thursday 26 May 2016

LONG time Port Douglas resident Wendy Morris has turned her hand to a project that she hopes will spread a big picture message about the Great Barrier Reef - and the natural world in general - through the medium of fashion and art.

Her Reef Society label showcases ‘the Little Things that Matter’ - the Colours, designs and life stories of fish, corals and critters of the reef on limited edition clothing designs and artworks.

Morris graduated in Marine Biology from James Cook university in 1978 and has since spent much of her life at play or work on coral reefs. She started Reef Biosearch, the first Marine Biologist guided snorkeling on Quicksilver in 1986, and has since been involved in various tourism and development projects in Port Douglas with the Morris family.

Always a keen underwater photographer, she has spent the past 12 months developing the project, trying out prototype fabrics and garment designs for herself and on friends.

"I fell in love with reefs at the age of 11 when I first put my head underwater,” Morris said.

“It changed my life and I want to share that passion. It's like a city out there that you get to know better and better each time you visit; the citizens of reef society each have a home, or familiar territory, they like certain foods, have good relations with some while others eat them.

“They each have a story - and are all connected so the whole bigger is than the sum of the parts. For the clothing lines I've searched far and wide to source the absolutely best and most environmentally sound lines I can, with all being printed, sewn and packed in Queensland.”

Morris’s work is complex. The eye first catches the attention-grabbing colours and designs of reef animals on super-high quality garment, but upon closer inspection the whole story is revealed. While the scientific detail about the reef and its residents can be complex, Morris said she wanted these stories to be understood by anyone from 8-80 with no scientific training.

“From Port Douglas to Perth, Mumbai to Shanghai, LA to London - I'd like the funky, colourful and different designs to catch the eye, then catch the mind, then the heart,” she said.

“I want to inspire people to explore nature more regularly; to tread lightly in their own daily existence and leave as small an environmental footprint as possible. To bring up their children closer to nature than to an iPhone. To nurture curiosity and a desire for wild places.”

Having just returned from three weeks in the Banda Sea - part of the Coral Triangle - in the company of pioneer underwater explorer Valerie Taylor, Morris said that she was shocked at the absence of sharks - a result of unregulated fishing.

"It underpins again the importance of management of our Great Barrier Reef - we need to ensure we have a balance of ‘no take’ zones and do everything we can to keep good water quality to ensure a healthy and resilient reef that can recover from crises like Crown of Thorns, cyclones and even bleaching,” she said.

After the initial pre-release run, the first stock for sale online has come in this week and is available at and at Deep Yoga Studio (whole foods) on Warner St.

Greeting cards are also available at Whileaway Bookshop.