Reef Check’s E-News
"As the official caretaker of the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef, I really gained an understanding of this unique natural wonder of the world and what it takes to maintain an preserve such a valuable asset. We can preserve the future of this highly sensitive eco0system for generations to come and working with Reef Check Australia on the Best Expedition in the World was a chance to help with the health of the Great Barrier Reef." -Ben Southall, Tourism Queensland Ambassador
The Great Barrier Reef | Our flagship project
The Great Barrier Reef Project has been running since 2001 and involves long-term monitoring of more than 25 key dive sites on the Great Barrier Reef, all coordinated by our volunteer Project Officers. From 2011-2013, we expanded our monitoring locations to encompass the southern section of the Great Barrier Reef, including Heron Island and Lady Elliot Island.
What is the GBR?
The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 2,600 kilometres (1,600 mi) over an area of approximately 344,400 square kilometres (133,000 sq mi). The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland from the top of Cape York south to Lady Elliot Island (just north of mainland Bundaberg). A majority of the reef is protected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) which manages the reef for multiple uses (fishing, diving, recreational boating, etc). The Reef was selected as a World Heritage Site in 1981 and is considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Where are Reef Check's GBR sites?
Reef Check monitors 25 sites which are located in 5 different region of the coast of Queensland - the Whitsunday Islands, Cairns, Townsville and Magnetic Island, Port Douglas, and the Southern GBR (Heron Island and Lady Elliot Island).
How does our survey program work?
This flagship project has the support of more than 20 dive operators along the length of the Reef. These operators recognise the importance of looking after their reefs, and support the project by providing in-kind berth space for our teams during surveys and training.
Our enthusiastic volunteers continue to contribute their time and to make the most of this, we're seeking Adopt a Reef partners to provide the funding we need to formalise and strengthen the project.
When & where?
The survey season runs between February and May each year. Surveys run out from Port Douglas in the north down to the Whitsunday Islands in the south. From 2011-2013, we expanded our monitoring locations to encompass the southern section of the Great Barrier Reef, inclusing Heron Island and Lady Elliot Island. Most surveys happen at weekends so our community volunteers can participate outside of their work commitments.
The data collected from this monitoring is now distributed via our new Reef Health Database.
Download the Great Barrier Reef Project: Ten Year Report
Stay tuned for the results of our presentation at the October 2013 Queensland Coastal Conference and the 2013 Great Barrier Reef Survey Season!
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Examples of Successful Reef Check GBR Projects
Reef Check reaches Lady Elliot Island!
Reef Check Australia volunteers were joined by newly trained Sunshine Coast University students earlier this year on the gorgeous Lady Elliot Island. This beautiful coral island, home to a myriad of bird life treated visitors to an array of underwater life as well. Manta Rays, Stingrays, turtles and reef sharks were just some of the awesome creatures we spotted during our time there. Reef Check Australia volunteers set up 5 new reef health monitoring sites around Lady Elliot Island, an exciting move forward for the RCA team. The sites where chosen to represent the different zones found around the island. A HUGE thankyou to the amazing island staff, who assisted along the way: with logistics, decision making, site selction, and ultimately the success of the new sites.
Getting Reef Check happening on Heron Island
With generous support from the University of Queensland's Biophysical Remote Sensing Group and Heron Island Research Station, we expanded our Southern Great Barrier Reef sites and closed the gap between our established GBR and South East Queensland monitoring locations. The 9 new monitoring sites were selected to represent diverse management and use areas on Heron Reef, including protected Green zones, general use areas and scientific research zones. Reef Check transects were planned to over lap with geo-referenced photo-transects and benthos photos for further validation of Worldview 2 satellite images. This coordinated research trip builds on research conducted by Dr Chris Roelfema and Prof. Stuart Phinn since 2001 and helps investigate synergies between the multiple data collection approaches while developing a long-term monitoring program for Heron Reef.
Reef Check Teacher Training on Palm Island
We joined up with Reef Safari Magnetic Island and Scuba Schools International (SSI) to run Snorkel Instructor and Reef Check training for teachers at Bwgcolman Community School on Palm Island. This combo course helps make it possible for teachers to get their students out to the best classroom there is... the reefs on their doorstep! Nick Blacklaws and Brett Fairhurst, SSI Instructors at Reef Safari donated their time for the course and SSI offered in-kind support by way of reduced certification expenses. Reef Safari instructor, Brett said "We were more than happy to run the course for these guys, getting the kids involved in snorkelling is a great way to help further their education on reef conservation, especially in such great reef like the surroundings of Palm Island."
Our 2013 Great Barrier Reef survey season was supported through funding from the Australian Government's Caring for Our Country and Community Action Grants, Queensland Government's Everyone's Environment Grants and Reef Catchments.