Queensland boy who asked Billie Eilish to help reef program named CoralWatch ambassador

A nine-year-old boy from Queensland who encouraged one of the world’s biggest pop stars to get involved in a campaign to protect the Great Barrier Reef has added another achievement to his impressive record.

Late last year, Bundaberg’s Elijah Richardson, a longtime supporter of the nonprofit citizen science program CoralWatch, pulled off an almost unimaginable feat when American singer-songwriter Billie Eilish agreed to loan her 2016 single Ocean Eyes to the cause.

Last month, the 4th-year student was named Coral Watch’s 2022 Ambassador, the first time a child has held the position.

Elijah has already attended a workshop for the program on Heron Island and will be attending the World Science Festival in Brisbane in March to speak to the public about the Great Barrier Reef on behalf of CoralWatch.

CoralWatch is based at the University of Queensland and was founded in 2002.

It provides the public with accessible information about coral reefs and climate change, as well as a hands-on experience collecting scientific data on coral bleaching using a coral health chart.

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“I can’t believe CoralWatch chose me to be one of their ambassadors. Is it amazing?” said Elijah.

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Elijah and Coral Watch set out to harness the star power of actors Robert De Niro and Kit Harrington for their cause, but the young arsonist was already content to have Eilish on board.

“At the start we were extremely excited and I’m sure I’ll always be pretty excited and proud to have made it,” Elijah said.

“A year ago we sent messages and somehow it got through to him.

“It’s an incredible ecosystem for many creatures, corals, sharks, manta rays, sea snakes and many more. I’ve lived next to the beach and the ocean all my life and every time I snorkeling, it takes my breath away.”

Eilish’s passion for conservation was also evident when she joined Australia Zoo’s Robert Irwin and other celebrities to urge world leaders to take urgent action ahead of the UN climate change conference (COP26) l ‘last year.

Kerry Richardson said she was “incredibly proud” of her son’s achievement.

“We’ve supported his journey since a young age, when he wanted to do what he could to help the environment,” she said.

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“When he was younger he didn’t know what he could do, just that he wanted to help the environment, so we presented opportunities and he chose what he wanted to do.

“Now it’s a mix of what we can find for him and what he finds for himself.”

Elijah wants to inspire others to protect the reef.(Provided: Kerry Richardson)

Ms Richardson said the family had “hoped” Eilish would respond, but had kept Elijah’s expectations under control for the past 12 months.

“We always told him that anything is possible and if you want something you have to go out and work hard for it. In this case, it’s been successful,” she said.

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