Around the Reef - Reef Check Australia - Jan 2021 Update

January 15, 2021

Dear {{recipient.first_name_or_friend}} -- 

Hello and welcome to 2021!

We hope your festive season was exactly that; festive! and that you were able to take some time out to enjoy the things you like to do, that you replenished your soul, enjoyed the outdoors, and are ready and rearing for a fantastic 2021. Taking inspiration from our involvement and participation in the THRIVE Festival over New Year’s Eve, January's Action of the month is to plant the seeds of intention for the year ahead.

To start the new year, this months email includes:

  • Action of the Month: Plant the Seeds of Intention for the Year Ahead
  • Thriving into the New Year
  • Clean-up for the Hatchlings
  • Beer Yoga with Reef Check
  • Seaside Scavenge Hunt & Beach Clean-up at Caloundra
  • Getting to know our volunteers
  • News from the Field
  • Brain Food
  • Current Coral Affairs
  • Get With the Program

Plant the Seeds of Intention for the Year Ahead

What does this mean? For us, it means preparing for the year ahead. To think about what we want to achieve in the year ahead, and how we plan on doing that. Individually, what changes do we want to make in our life, career, relationships, friendships, or impact in the world around us?

This is no easy task, but it's important to take the time and really get clear on what you want to achieve. Set your intentions. Write them down. It might be a word, a statement, an image. But be clear and get ready. Because these intentions, these seeds, we are going to plant them. You can do so physically, metaphorically, or both. You choose. But this seed of thought, of intention, or purpose; this is what will drive you through the next 12 months.
Once the seed is planted, it's not set and forget. It needs nutrients to grow. So what practices, habits, and plans will you put in place to nurture it? Is it self-care, learning more, personal development, a new course, or simply dedicating time to any of the above? What is the keystone habit that will drive you ahead this year? What are the nutrients (those habits, plans, etc) that you will pour into and over your seed of intention to ensure it grows and blooms?

So sit back, relax, and set your intentions for the year. And get ready to watch them bloom.


Thriving into the new Year!

Written by Kade Chambers, Reef Check Australia volunteer.

My passion, love for the ocean, and marine life has drawn me to the very addictive hobby of diving. It is through this love of the ocean and diving where I met Jodi and started to learn about Reef Check Australia. Since first meeting Jodi and the Reef Check team on their fundraising trip aboard Saltwater Eco Tours I have since joined them for an underwater clean up dive, and exploratory snorkels in Morton Bay. I have also been on a few recreational reef dives with Jodi, which were very educational; she is a book of knowledge on reefs and marine critters.

Since learning about RCA, I wanted to find all the ways I could get more involved, so as soon as I heard they needed volunteers for THRIVE, I jumped at the chance to hang out with awesome people helping out, for New Years Eve.

And WOW what an unbelievable festival! As a volunteer with RCA we were responsible for waste removal. As a part of this, we sorted and kept all the cans and bottles from the event, with all proceeds from the refund scheme donated to RCA.

Even though I was collecting rubbish I probably had my best New Years to date, volunteering with Jodi, Scott, Lisa and Michael (other RCA volunteers) was made really fun. I’m pretty sure I can speak for all volunteers when I say we all had a really good night and made some money for RCA, and did our bit for the environment. It feels good to start 2021 doing something so awesome.

Hats off to Jodi and the Reef Check team for their awesome work and making life for volunteers easy and enjoyable.

Looking forward to the next event I can help out at.


Clean-up for the Hatchlings 2021

We are pleased that this important annual Sunshine Coast event is still able to go ahead with a COVID safe plan in place. There are still places available to help clean-up our beaches for our impending turtle hatchlings (and the entire marine ecosystem). We would love you to join us by registering at Eventbrite here.

Once on there you can select the beach you wish to attend, if your first choice is not available we encourage you to select another one. There will be a QR code for sign in at the beach on the morning. Please remember to bring your own gloves, plus a hat, sunscreen, and water bottle. After the beach clean-up there is a free sausage sizzle and some prize awards at La Balsa Park at Buddina. Who does not love a free sausage sizzle???? Okay, there will be Mushrooms for the vegetarians and they are pretty awesome as well!


Beer Yoga with Reef Check 

What an EPIC beer yoga event to be our last one for the year!

Last month we were joined by the epic SCOTT from Younion Yoga to help us find our zen in amongst the Christmas craziness. It was nice to be able to take some time out, stretch and relax with a tasty brew in hand thanks to Your Mates Brewery before the full craziness of the silly season hit.

Thank you to everyone who continues to support Reef Check Australia in any way that you can. Keen to help us kick off the next beer yoga for 2021? Stay tuned for details!


Seaside Scavenge Hunt & Beach Clean-up, Caloundra

Reef Check Australia was at the Seaside Scavenge in Caloundra, on the Sunny Coast at the end of last year. This event was a fun-filled day where local community was able to pick-up rubbish in exchange for pre-loved clothes, books, toys, and furniture. Despite the very windy conditions the event was a great success which resulted in 65kg of local rubbish being collected by the enthusiastic ocean and earth lovers. The event was led by Poppy from the Visionary Ocean Warriors, who are an inspiring group of young people dedicated to protecting our oceans. The day was filled with fantastic local music, educational information booths and great guest speakers which included Sea Shepherd, Tangaroa Blue and our very own Jodi Salmond from Reef Check Australia (who also MCed the event!).

A big thank you to Julie, Olga and Toni for helping out on the day (you guys rock!).


Getting to Know our Volunteers at Reef Check Australia | Ben Brauer

Ben is the coordinator of New Beginnings ( ''I’ve been interested in the Marine Environment from age 5, and was pleased to be able to include marine programs into my non-profit charitable work in Queensland.

For me being a part of the Reef Check Ambassador program was a valuable multi-faceted experience, bringing new knowledge for my youth marine conservation work, the possibility for cooperation with other like-minded organisations, and my first snorkel in quite a while. Above all, meeting so many lovely people, all intent on reef conservation. Thanks to all of you!!

It seems I will return to some of the bays we stopped at when I take part in the Whitsunday Cleanup Flotilla on my own boat later this month. So, more knowledge gained during our RCA trip of the anchorages and channels we transited that I hadn’t been to before.

Reef Check Ambassador Ben Brauer (left), with our Reef Check GBR Coordinator Nathan Cook


Where are you from? Originally from Germany, but a long-time Australian resident, currently living on the Gold Coast.

What motivated you to join our team? New knowledge, new cooperations.

What project are you planning on focusing on? Currently my charity’s Youth Programs, including our recently introduced Youth Marine Conservation Programs.

What animal do you think best represents you? Eagle (my companion from early in life)

Night owl or early bird? Early bird.

Flying or invisibility? Definitely Soaring!

Favourite food? I’m a Foodie. All kinds.


Thanks Ben for being an important part of Reef Check Australia.  


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

Clean up at La Balsa | Mooloolah River

Written by; Rachel Mcveigh, RCA scuba volunteer.

It was so good to get back in the water with RCA at La Balsa, a river survey dive site. There’s always something to learn from the team leaders about the substrate, impacts, and how to identify rare species.
Conditions were good to us on the day and visibility fair, considering the huge storm a couple of days prior in the region.

We even saw a stick pipefish (I have never even heard of those before!) and removed over 10kg of rubbish from a short clean up on the way back.

Thanks for the laughs as always guys. I love being a part of the Reef Check Australia team, and I look forward to more activities in the new year!



A Talk at Mooloolaba State School

Our General Manager, Jodi Salmond, was invited back to her old primary school last month to talk to year 6 students about work in the environmental sector, and to how best to align their futures with their current goals.

'It was a beautiful experience to be able to give back to the school that kicked off my love of the ocean, and my passion for working as a marine biologist. It was great to hear so many awesome stories from the students as to what they are currently doing, and what they want to do in the future. It looks like we have a wonderful array of passionate scientists growing up on the Sunshine Coast!'

Thank you to Mooloolaba State School for the invitation and for fostering such environmental stewardship in the next generation.



North Queensland

Bowen Beach Clean Up & Citizen Science Surveys

On Saturday December 5 a band of willing citizen scientists joined forces at Rose Bay in Bowen for a collection of citizen science activities to help the local environment. Co-led by Reef Check Ambassadors and Ngaro Traditional Owners Lynndel and Milda Oui, volunteers participated in a number of beach and in water activities collecting data for a range of citizen science programs.

As part of the Reef Check Ambassador program we try to inspire ambassadors to lead projects and activities in their local area. On this occasion, as part of Reef Check’s Whitsundays Citizen Science Project, we are specifically trying to engage and support Traditional Owners to learn about the Reef and get involved in actions to support its ongoing health and resilience. In this way we hope to also support and strengthen sea country connections in the region. The event also featured Reef Check Australia GBR Coordinator Nathan Cook and Reef Check Ambassador Nerida Higgins from the Whitsundays as well as local CoralWatch Ambassador Kate Buchanan and some teachers from the local high school.

The team of volunteers kicked off by conducting an Australian Microplastics Assessment Program (AUSMAP). This program involves the random selection of locations along a 50m transect at the last high tide mark and sifting the top layer of sand to find 1-5mm plastic pieces. It is pretty cool and we relied on the younger volunteers with good eyesight to find the tiny bits of plastic. Thankfully we didn’t find many.

We conducted a Tangaroa Blue clean up along the beach and amongst the rocks. It was hot work and we were thankful for the shade offered by the nearby picnic area. Volunteers sorted and cataloged the rubbish found using Tangaroa Blue’s data collection sheet which allocates rubbish into a variety of categories. All of this information is submitted to Tangaroa Blue’s Australian Marine Debris Initiative database and assists in knowing what the problems are to enable the development of source reduction programs.

Toward the end of the event Reef Check Australia GBR Coordinator, Nathan Cook and Reef Check Ambassador Nerida Higgins from the Whitsundays jumped in the water and completed some in water surveys. Nathan completed three Eye on the Reef Reef Health and Impact (RHIS) assessments while Nerida completed a CoralWatch Coral Health survey. All this data feeds into respective databases to help management know about and protect our marine environment.


The Reef Check Australia Whitsundays Citizen Science Project is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation



Alma Bay, Magnetic Island gets a clean on a windy Saturday

The crew from Reef Check Australia headed to the little alcove that is Alma Bay in Magnetic Island for a beach and underwater clean up. It was an extremely windy Saturday, but that did not stop the volunteers' enthusiasm for some citizen science activities. 13 volunteers ranging in age from 0 (yes, a 10-month-old who admittedly didn’t do much!) to 68 participated in a marine debris clean up on the beach, and 3 hardy scuba divers braved the choppy seas to explore the underwater world for any rubbish. Underwater we found quite a bit of broken glass and not much else, no doubt washed away by the waves and surge.
The team also completed a complementary AUSMAP survey on Alma Bay beach. AUSMAP is the Australian Microplastics Assessment Project and is conducted in conjunction with the regular Tangaroa Blue clean up on the adjacent beach. Overall the team collected 4kgs of marine debris, much of it small plastic pieces, clear plastic film, plastic and glass bottles, and cigarette butts.
Community engagement and raising awareness is a key component of citizen science activities. It was a busy Saturday at the beach with many visitors who came and chatted to the volunteers about what we were doing and why. It was great to be able to share knowledge and inspire people to look after their own backyard.
With all of these events the rubbish was weighed, counted and sorted, and the data submitted to Tangaroa Blue’s Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) database. By processing the data this way we can determine the primary contributors to the rubbish we find and look at source reduction programs to stop it getting into our natural ecosystems in the first place.


These clean ups were part of the @reefclean project, funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and delivered by @tangaroablue Foundation and a number of partner organisations including Reef Check Australia



Brain Food

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


  The Overstory | By Richard Powers

Shortlisted for the Man Booker in 2018, The Overstory is a brilliant and passionate book about humans and their relationship to trees and the natural environment. - Read more



 Mission Blue | Sylvia Earle

Feature documentary about legendary oceanographer, marine biologist, environmentalist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle , and her campaign to create a global network of protected marine sanctuaries.

Watch now on Netflix



  The Regenerative Journey | Charlie Arnott

The Regenerative Journey podcast is a must for anyone who is curious about regenerative agriculture and the wide ranging and significant benefits of its adoption and practice, not just for farming communities but also for anyone who eats food and cares for the planet!

Available on Spotify.


Current Coral Affairs

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

  After 20 years of research and lobbying efforts, the Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF) is thrilled to announce a major legislative victory for ocean life in Mozambique. - Read more


   Partying dolphins and rare sea slug among 2020 highlights in UK seas. - Read more


  Researchers exploring the depths of the northern Great Barrier Reef have found a rare species of "walking" fish never before recorded in Australian waters. - Read more


Get with the Program

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


More exciting events are being planned for 2021....stay tuned and keep an eye on our socials & events pages to keep up-to-date

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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