Keepers of the Reef

Takes children to the underwater world of Australia's Great Barrier Reef for a prime example of how a complex ecosystem depends on its keystone species.

Keepers of the Reef

Sharon Wismer―reef ecologist and mom―is the best tour guide a kid could have for a visit to the underwater world of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Alice Wong’s richly detailed, accurate watercolors take a boy and girl snorkeling to see the fishes that maintain the ecological balance between the corals and their main competitor, algae. Without the fish species that brush, crop, scrape, excavate, and browse the algae, coral reefs would die. A coral reef is a brilliant and colorful example of how a complex ecosystem functions and why its keystone species are critical to its health.

The Great Barrier Reef is one of Earth’s most celebrated natural treasures. Here children discover why the reef is threatened and what we can all do to help protect it. Endorsements are coming from Charlie Veron (“the godfather of coral,” featured in the 2017 film Chasing Coral) and David Bellwood, a world-renowned reef fish ecologist whose lab is the source of much of the information in this book.

Keepers of Reef is the rare children’s book combining cutting-edge science with narrative and pictorial magic. Thorough backmatter sources and resources are included.

watercolor and pencil



"When children discover the wonders of the natural world, they become fascinated and curious, and this often sparks a life-long appreciation for the environment. This book offers young readers a glimpse into the delicate balance between corals, algae, and the reef fishes that together make up these important ecosystems. A journey of discovery that will educate and inspire a connection with our oceans and the magic of coral reefs."
Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, and UN Messenger of Peace

"Keepers of the Reef invites kids to look beyond the pretty colors, revealing fascinating fish behaviors that are key to the survival of coral reefs. A delightful perspective on life in this beautiful yet fragile marine habitat."
Dr. David Bellwood, reef fish expert and Distinguished Professor of Marine Biology at James Cook University

"Coral reefs are places of wonder and excitement that stir kids’ imaginations and create curiosity that lasts a lifetime. Keepers of the Reef nurtures that curiosity. It will encourage the children of today to become the stewards of tomorrow."
Dr. Charlie Veron, global coral expert, conservationist, and the “Godfather of Coral”