Australia's <i>Survivor</i> Reef Beef

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Hit CBS television show Survivor: The Australian Outback is in trouble once again with authorities in Australia who are investigating whether contestants illegally removed coral from the Great Barrier Reef.

In the latest episode, broadcast last week in the United States, two contestants were flown to the ecologically sensitive reef and returned with pieces of coral as souvenirs for other cast members.

Gregor Manson, director of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, said authorities were alerted by Australians in the United States.

"We've had a number of complaints from the public in relation to the impression created on the Survivor show, which was shown to 40 million Americans, that you could take coral from the beach, and then take it away from the reef," he told CBS Radio affiliate 2UE in Sidney.

You can't.

It is illegal to take coral from the World Heritage listed reef without a permit. Penalties include fines of up to $110,000 (U.S. $53,108).


"We'll prosecute in the normal way if they've broken the law," Manson said.

Manson said officials had also had complaints from viewers in the United States about aircraft in the CBS reality show flying too close to seabird rookeries on the reef.

"We've got an investigation under way to ascertain whether contestants on the show have done anything untoward," Manson said.

Australia's air force was reprimanded by a government minister last week for giving Survivor contestants a free ride on an air force transport plane, a publicity stunt which cost taxpayers A$300,000 (US $144,840).

The show outraged animal rights activists in February when a cast member was shown slaughtering a wild pig.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park covers the biggest coral structure in the world and is home to complex coral reef systems and wildlife habitats.

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