Around the Reef - Reef Check Australia - October 2021

October 01, 2021

Dear {{recipient.first_name_or_friend}} 

It's October already, meaning Christmas is just around the corner (less than 90 days away...what!!!) With the beautiful spring weather upon us, our teams have taken advantage of the clear skies and have been busy spreading the ocean conservation message and cleaning up our beaches.

This months email includes:

  • Action of the Month: Conscious shopping
  • News from the Field
  • Brain Food
  • Current Coral Affairs
  • Get With the Program

Conscious Shopping. Think about your purchases! 

With Christmas just around the corner many people are busy creating gift lists, organising get togethers and preparing menus. It's a great opportunity to spend time with your friends, family and loved ones. For this months "Action of the month" we are asking everyone to think about where your Christmas products are coming from. How many kilometres have they travelled to get to you? How are they packaged and what they are made from? Following on from our July Action of the Month (Plastic Free July), we urge you to consider purchasing products locally (or at least in Australia), products made from recycled materials, items shipped in compostable or recycled packaging or ditching "stuff" altogether and think about giving experiences instead.

When organising get togethers, don't use single use plates or cutlery. If you don't have a big picnic set, get everyone to bring their own reusable plates, cups and cutlery. This creates less waste, even paper plates and bamboo cutlery have to be disposed somewhere.

These small actions add up to big wins for our environment. Next month we will bring you details of some small local businesses that you can support when ticking off your Christmas shopping list.


News from the field

Stories and updates from our teams out & about. Check out some of these regional stories on our website!

South East Queensland

With our surveys all wrapped up for the moment, our team have been busy with information stalls, renewing their first aid certifications and helping with clean-ups.

Gold Coast Whale Festival

Reef Check Australia joined in the fun and festivities of the Gold Coast Whale Festival 2021 put on by Humpbacks & High-Rises. So many amazing groups came together to make the event a reality, and what a beautiful day to all meet up!
Thank you to the City of Gold Coast for their support. Empowering people to protect our reefs and oceans is the core of what we do, and it would not be possible without ongoing support.
Thank you also to our amazing volunteers for being so flexible and making it work!
Photo credit: Angel Pesut, Mark Buckley and Nerida
And thanks to the myriad of other groups that make such festivals possible!

First Aid Refresher

Some of our team updated their first aid skills recently to make sure we are able to offer immediate response in the unlikely event of an emergency, either during our activities or in everyday life. Resuscitation is an important skill and one that we feel everyone should consider adding to their skillset.

Microplastics Survey


On a beautiful spring day we had the privilege of joining Visionary Ocean Warriors for a clean up at Golden Beach and learn about undertaking AUSMap surveys for microplastics. We also watched as an enthusiastic group of young people sorted through the larger items of debris collected to be catalogued into the AMDI database. These people are the ocean guardians of the future and we commend them for their efforts.

MEAM kicks off

Finally after delays caused by bad weather and a false start caused by a COVID lockdown, the Mooloolaba Ecological Assessment and Mapping (MEAM) Team finally hit the reefs of the Sunshine Coast. Several of our Reef Checkers are part of this group run by UQ. They aim to map the shallow water reefs around Mooloolaba. Check out this video created using photogrammetry.

Tallebudgera land based clean up

Reef Check Australia and Gold Coast community volunteers joined forces to clean up Tallebudgera Creek on the Gold Coast earlier this month as a part of a series of beach and underwater clean ups run by Reef Check Australia to document and remove marine debris along the length of the Queensland coastline, looking at several key debris hotspots over a two year period.

Tallebudgera won ‘Australia’s cleanest beach in the Keep Australia Beautiful Australian clean Beach awards’ in 2010/2011, however recent reports have shown that the area has become a hot spot for marine debris.  Two different methodologies to monitor and document debris in the area were used.  Microplastic surveys along the high tide mark showed no microplastics found in this area, however many lightweight plastics, beverage containers and ‘the usual suspects’ of plastic straws, cigarette butts and snack wrappers were found strewn amongst the vegetation; not unexpected due to the amount of wind experienced by the team on the day. However, the amount of plastic entwined in and under roots of nearby trees was a little unexpected; showing just how long such items hang around in the natural environment.

The area is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, as evidenced by the team early on a Monday workday morning. Whilst the rubbish only weighed 2 kg, it consisted primarily of lightweight plastic items, with 375 pieces of rubbish making up the haul from the team which illustrates just how easy it is to make a difference. As school holidays move into full swing, its important to remember to dispose of rubbish correctly wherever you are. 

Want to join in the next event? Sign up to receive our Enews letter and follow us on socials for regular updates and event locations!

This project has received funding support from the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action grant program.

Tallebudgera underwater clean up

Trained Reef Check Australia divers visited Tallebudgera Creek last week to undertake an underwater clean up below the surface of this popular location.  A beautiful sandy beach frequented by holiday makers and locals alike, the rock wall leading out to the ocean is a treasure trove of rocks, seaweeds, macroalgae, octopuses and nudibranchs. And Marine debris.

The dive team removed 36m of fishing line and 11 pieces of fishing debris over a period of just 1 hour. The site is relatively shallow, and an important nursery for a variety of fish species. Further towards the river mouth, over 30 meters of fishing line and tens of lures were removed by snorkelers the day prior. All debris is removed (if safe to do so), disposed of safely and documented through the Australian Marine Debris Initiative.

Want to join in the next event? Sign up to receive our Enews letter and follow us on socials for regular updates and event locations!

This project has received funding support from the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action grant program.

Great Barrier Reef

Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island beach clean up

Reef Check Australia hosted a beach cleanup event at Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island as a result of collaborations between local Townsville and Magnetic Island residents and community groups. Our collective efforts resulted in more that 2.5km of beach cleaned, 13kg of debris removed from the natural environment and more than 800 individual items collected. Memorable items found were a tinny and bags of plant pest Prickly Pear which have been reported to local groups and council. An AUSMAP microplastics survey was also completed and we are so pleased to report that none were found however there were still many small items such 313 cigarette butts and almost 100 hard plastic remnants.

Huge thankyou to Kaspa and Lawrence from @snorkeldownunder, MICDA, Townsville City Council and the wonderful team of Reef Check Volunteers and locals who helped on the day.

Want to join in the next event? Sign up to receive our Enews letter and follow us on socials for regular updates and event locations!

This project has received funding support from the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action grant program.


Brain Food

Reviews and details on books, documentaries, and podcasts that we have come across, & wanted to share.

Life on the Brink - A series of podcasts where Gabe and Alex chat with conservationists and ask them the big questions. Check them out here


Radiolab - a platform for long-form journalism and storytelling. Apparently these 2 podcasts are pretty good!

Did you know that our annual survey reports are available on our website? Head over to our website to view reports for the Great Barrier Reef and South East Queensland.

Current Coral Affairs

Check out some of the latest news and research about our ocean and waste reduction innovations:


Virgin sharks? Check out this article

Australia a litter hot spot

Did you know Australia is considered a litter hotspot?

Litter Hotspots

Get with the Program

Here's what we've got coming up in the next few weeks, keep checking the website for more updates. 

  • 23 October 2021: Clean Up Dive Gold Coast Seaway. Email [email protected] for more details.

If you missed any of our Coast to Coral online events, remember you can always catch-up by taking a look at our YouTube Channel here  


Thanks for reading! If you want to help our work to empower more people to protect Australian reefs, please consider making a monthly tax-deductible donation. 



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