Dear Friend of Reef Check Australia -
Hello Reef Check Australia members, volunteers, friends, supporters, partners, and all-round awesome humans.
And just like that… it's December! For a year that was full of surprises, it went surprisingly fast. Thanks for hanging around. We appreciate it!
Following on from our last Action of the Month, we want to continue the ‘Re’ theme into our next Action of the Month for December; the season for giving. A season for gratitude, support, appreciation, and togetherness. Let's be honest, It's not limited to this month, obviously, but it's a nice reminder of what Christmas is all about. So as we move quickly into the silly season, we wish to reflect on what was accomplished as a team, and to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to each and every one of you, and give you a quick RE-cap of what we have been up to for the year that was 2020….
Covid hit us hard. Harder than we expected it could, however, the experience has allowed us to RE-flect and adapt, and has shown that together, as a community we are RE-silient, and that with all hands on deck, we can, do, and will continue to make a difference for our reefs and oceans.
This year we RE-ally focused on developing new partnerships and nurturing existing connections with our volunteers, supporters, and staff, enabling us to expand our current activities, despite the overwhelming times that Covid has gifted us with. We have taken time to RE-ach out, RE-flect, and RE-connect; with ourselves, with our teams, and with the world around us. We have streamlined processes to allow us to continue with our vital reef health monitoring, training, and community engagement more effectively, which has, in turn, allowed us to increase our impact as a group, and as individuals, working together for a stronger planet.
We conducted over 125 surveys during the year, an area spanning 50,000m2 of reef. We ran and joined in more than 15 clean up activities within Queensland, pulling in more than a tonne of debris from above and below the water (combined). We trained over 60 new volunteers in SCUBA and Ambassador training and manned over 35 stalls at a variety of events, whilst following all restrictions put in place due to covid.
This is all only made possible due to all of you. So from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you. Thank you to old and new supporters, to our volunteers, to the friends, family, and coworkers that lent a hand, and to those who worked tirelessly to make sure we were able to complete tasks needed to be completed, and that they were completed safely. Thank you to the individuals and businesses who have come on board throughout the year. We applaud your willingness to support your local reef charity and we thank you for your ongoing support in such a crazy time!
This month's action of the month is all about giving. Whether that be a kind word, a handwritten card, an anonymous gift, quality time with a friend, family, or stranger, or the gift of shared experiences. Be kind to those around you; the attendant helping you shop last minute, your friends family and neighbors, your coworkers.. everyone. You never know just how much the next person you smile at might need it.
For our giving month, we wish to showcase some of the awesome brands, groups, businesses, and individuals working together to create a change in the world around us. So make sure to check out the recommendations from our staff and volunteers on their favourite things below, and on our social media channels. If you are looking for something a little different this year, think about giving an experience rather than a physical gift. We have some beautiful experiences and events to share, so make sure to check them out!
If physical gifts are more your style, think about showing your appreciation of a fellow amazing human this year by going local. Everyone is doing it tough. How can we support as many locals as possible? Let's support local businesses (wherever ‘local’ is for you!) this Christmas, and beyond.
For some recommendations of local businesses, we like to support, check out this special SILLY SEASON edition of the Enews, the last for 2020!
And once again, in case you missed it… THANK YOU. For your kindness, your support, your shares, your donations, and your awesomeness. Now sit back, relax, and see you in the new year!
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year
from all the team at Reef Check Australia
This months email includes:
- Action of the Month: Embrace the Gift of Giving
- Coral Spawning on GBR
- Stewardship Report Launch
- Supporting Traditional Owners in the Whitsundays
- Have your say on EPA
- Getting to know our volunteers
- News from the Field
- Brain Food
- Current Coral Affairs
- Get With the Program
Embrace the Gift of Giving
Christmas carols are playing, Santa is popping up all over the place and the kids (and adults) are getting excited for that special day. So Reef Check Australia is making the whole of December a 'Month of Giving' and asking you to 'Embrace the Gift of Giving'. We have asked some of our lovely volunteers and staff for recommendations on local businesses that are doing great things, by creating products and experiences that are sustainable and environmentally friendly. It's 2020....it's been a huge year of change.....so let's do something different this year and shop with care and mindfulness.
Want to get yourself decked out in all your favorite Reef Check Australia gear this Christmas? We have the PERFECT gift from Santa, for yourself and your loved ones- from Adopt a Reef, T-shirts, Books, REEFSearch Kits, and reusable coffee cups to stocking stuffers like Tote Bags and mask straps. Oh, so many options! Pop on over to the Sea Store for all your reef inspired needs!
for something a little different... how about checking out our ADOPT A REEF program: Adopt a Reef
Get your orders in by December 15th and we will make sure it is on its way to you for Christmas!!
Check out what else we came up with below;
Our first Christmas gift are these absolutely amazing Reef Check Australia Ocean Art Naomi cards! Sunshine Coast local Ocean Art Naomi has created these beautiful Christmas cards so you can help Save Our Reefs! These cards are a great way to support local and help spread the Reef Check Australia message! With all profits going directly to us to help #saveourreefs!!
Head on over to Ocean Art Naomi
We are so stoked to introduce you to our second support local christmas ideas- Clayed Coral.
Handcrafted on the Sunshine Coast this amazing reef inspired jewellery brand has been a HUGE support to Reef Check Australia the past year. Donating 10% of all profits to our cause, buying from Clayed Coral this Christmas is a great way to support a local business and #saveourreefs They will not only make you look fabulous but also feel fabulous! This beautiful, handcrafted, reef inspired, all round epic jewellery is the perfect little something for your friends and family members for Chrissy! Oh and did we mention they do sustainable shipping?!
Head over to Clayed Coral to get your hands on a pair of these beautiful, sustainable earrings.
Lush Mala Beads have been a long term supporter of Reef Check Australia, and our most recent collaboration is for some mermaid malas!
The Mermaid Mala was born from the acknowledgment that we are all connected to the planet and that what we do above the water directly affects what happens below it. Over 8 million tonnes of rubbish from our daily lives make its way into the ocean each and every year. Most of this will remain in the ocean, causing ingestion and entanglement issues for a myriad of animals. But a small portion of this debris will be removed. An even smaller portion will be recycled and given a second life.
With an idea to truly turn trash into treasure, Reef Check Australia and Lush Mala Beads teamed up to celebrate the amazing underwater wonderland, and to support the action agents dedicated to understanding and protecting our precious reef resources by creating something truly unique and beautiful. The Mermaid Mala series is the result of this collaboration. For each item you purchase from the series, 20% of the profits will go to Reef Check Australia to further support on ground (and underwater!) efforts. Made from recycled glass beads, silk, sterling silver charms, and a whole lot of love, these gorgeous pieces won’t last long. So rise and shine. Embrace your inner mermaid and speak up for our oceans – and look damn good doing it.
Want your own mermaid mala? Head on over to Lush Mala Beads
We call it our Coastal Scrunchie and Stud pack and 20% is donated to Reef Check Australia.
At Bloom Sustainable Reusable Beautiful we create sustainable scrunchies, using upcycled fabric instead of contributing to the mass production of new fabrics. By upcycling fabric we are able to give back to our community through making purchases at stores such as the Salvation Army, Lifeline and other recognised charity stores. We pride ourselves in collaborating with other small business and organisations here on the Coast to support and encourage one another.
We have recently collaborated with Clayed Coral and the Coolum Surf woman of the year, Jessica Appel.
Head over to Bloom Sustainable Lifestyle and check out our new range of scrunchies including Christmas stock.
Next, we want to share with you these absolutely gorgeous Australiana books! From Warragul, the whale and Tasman the turtle to Loretta lorikeet who wears high heels upon her feet, these stunning books are all about Fun, Friendship, and Discovery.
'Join a myriad of mischievous characters in the Bush, the Rainforest, the Desert, and the Oceans of Australia, in these beautifully illustrated adventures. The fun-filled rhyming stories have been favourites in young readers’ bookshelves for more than twenty years!'
“Life’s an adventure from beginning to end, and is always more fun to share with a friend.”
Check them out here: Simon Books.com
What does Christmas feel like to you? For some, it may be snow, hot choccies and a good warm blanket by the fire. For others (cough Australians cough) it's sipping on a beer by the beach, cranking up the barbie, and cooking up a Chrissy feed! Here at Reef Check Australia we know that if you don’t have a beer from Your Mates Brewing in your hand - you’re doing it all wrong!!
Based on the Sunnycoast Your Mates Brewhouse sells epics beers with a simple vision in mind - mateship, inclusiveness, and sustainability. Your Mates Brewing has been a HUGE supporter of Reef Check Australia by lending out their space to us every month for our epic Beer Yoga Event. Make sure this Christmas you stock up on this epic beer made by epic people - supporting them supports us and many other organisations!
P.s while you’re there grab a bite to eat - the food is just as good as the beer. They also have some epic merch! Check them out here Your Mates Brewhouse
Saltwater Eco Tours. Spoil your loved ones with a unique experience this Christmas with a Saltwater Eco Tours Cultural Tour &/or Sunset Tour!
The crew at Saltwater Eco Tours have been friends and supporters of Reef Check Australia for a long time now, and we absolutely LOVE checking out their tours! Slowly gliding along the waters for a sunset and a story is a beautiful way to wind down and celebrate the day. We think a Saltwater Eco Tours experience is the perfect way to create memories, plus an opportunity to support a small, local business.
Head on over to Saltwater Eco Tours to purchase a voucher or get in touch for more information.
Reef Check Australia will be celebrating the end of 2020 and the start of 2021 at THRIVE this year, as the charity of choice for this collaborative local event, designed to bring life, love and laughter to a very challenging year for all.
Family friendly, and full of amazingness designed to ignite your senses, THRIVE invites everyone for an epic gathering of community with heartfelt sharing of Live Music, Dance, Yoga, Spoken Word Poetry, Comedy, Art, Kids Entertainment & Heaps More.
Its been a big year for everybody and a massive change in our lifestyle overall. This new paradigm shift has allowed us to reflect on the things that we want to align with heading into the new year and the future. Its time to THRIVE!!
Keen to join? Maximum of 500 tickets available, so get in quick! Head on over to: Thrive 2021 NYE Experience for full details, and for ticket links.
Have you ever wanted to look like a whale shark? Or a tiger shark? what about a swordfish? Well, here is your chance! For our VOLUNTEER PICK for Christmas and beyond, we want to share WATERLUST.
Vibrant, environmentally responsible apparel that visually represents 11 (and growing) conservation topics, empowering you to use what you wear as a fun and functional science communication tool. For each design, they donate 10% of profits to leading research & education organisations and use their expert knowledge to guide behavioral change recommendations.
We have been IN LOVE with Waterlust's items for years now, showcasing their super cool designs wherever we go. NOW YOU can fall in love too... Head on over to their website using this unique Reef Check Australia link: Waterlust Online
And you too can look like the gorgeous marine critter you always wanted to be!
There are so many other groups that help out Reef Check Australia. Check them out on our Social media accounts to learn more.
Coral Spawning on GBR!
One of our Reef Check Australia team was lucky enough to head to the Whitsundays last month, to take part in the collaborative Boast4Corals Project. A Great Barrier Reef Foundation-supported project as a part of the #ReefIslandsInitiative is underway. Working with the Australian Institute of Marine Science and Peter Harrison and the team from Southern Cross University, and so many local operators!
Massive shout out to Ocean Rafting, Thundercats, and Tornado for coming out to learn all about the spawning, for the vessel support, and for being the A team for helping capture all these little babies!
It was super exciting to be a part of this project, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity. Such a great team to be working with! Thanks to Science Under Sail and Kiarna for being the support vessel and my home for the duration of the trip!
Make sure to check out our film recommendation in the 'Brain Food' section below to watch ABC's live stream coral spawning event (Reef Live) direct from the GBR this year.
Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership | Stewardship Report Launch, Mackay
Reef Check Australia and Reef Ecologic partners The Mackay-Whitsunday-Isaac Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership (HR2RP) recently launched their stewardship report celebrating sustainability initiatives and stories of stewardship enacted in the Mackay, Isaac, and Whitsunday region. This report features organisations, individuals, local businesses, and community organisations with the aim to improve our environment, and importantly, our communities' waterway health. A number of Reef Check Australia Ambassadors and Surveyors and Reef Ecologic staff feature in some fantastic projects highlighted in this report so you can check it out free online at Healthy Rivers to Reef.
We look forward to continuing our collaboration and partnership with the Healthy Rivers to Reef team in the GBR region!
Reef Check & Reef Ecologic Supporting Traditional Owners in the Whitsundays
Traditional Owners along the Queensland coast possess important sea-country connections with the Great Barrier Reef. With a history spanning thousands of years, many Traditional Owners hold knowledge and wisdom about how we can best live sustainably with our natural environments.
As part of our Citizen Science Project, Reef Check Australia is working with Ngaro Traditional Owners to help improve and revitalise some of those sea-country connections. Australia's history and treatment of some Aboriginal groups forced many off their land resulting in a broken bond with their ‘country’. Recently, two Ngaro Traditional Owners from Bowen, Lynndel, and Milda Oui graduated as part of the Reef Check Australia Ambassador program. In this program community members learn about the Reef, threats to it, and ways we can all help support its ongoing health and resilience. As part of the program, graduates are expected and encouraged to lead and drive environmental initiatives and raise awareness in their community.
As part of the training, Lynndel and Milda joined RCA on a 3 day trip in the Whitsunday Islands learning a range of citizen science activities. “The first time we traveled out ‘on-country’, I did get emotional,” Lynndel said.”It was a special feeling for me. Being in the water, just to look at the reef, the damage that has been done, and to see new life that is settling there. That was really exciting. I am walking away knowing a lot more about [the reef]. I definitely want to come back”.
During the three days, Lynndel and Milda learned about different citizen science methods and techniques including Eye on the Reef Rapid monitoring survey methods, CoralWatch Coral Health surveys, and the Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef’s Great Reef Census. All this data feeds into respective databases to help management know about and protect our marine environment.
Recently, Lynndel’s daughter Milda, a 15-year-old student from Bowen High School joined another expedition with project partner Reef Ecologic to undertake some monitoring and maintenance of their active reef restoration and helped restock their coral nurseries at two locations in the Whitsundays.
“This trip was great because I recently became a Reef Check Ambassador and took a trip out on-country in the Whitsundays. On this trip it was great to learn about different methods to help protect our oceans” Milda said. “The best part about this trip has been being in the water because I love the ocean. I just want to stay there. I really enjoyed helping to put the corals in the discs and the ropes as part of the restoration activities to make coral nurseries and I look forward to sharing some of my experience with my family and friends when I get home”
The hope is that by supporting local Traditional Owners to develop stronger sea-country connections and learn techniques to monitor marine habitats, they may be able to play a more active role in managing these important environments.
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
Have YOUR say on Expanded Polystyrene (EPA)
Head over to haveyoursay.des.qld.gov.au and let the Qld government know whether expanded polystyrene containers and cups should also be banned along with other single-use plastics. These products break down into tiny bits that float around on the surface of the ocean and look like food for plankton feeders. Like other plastics, these are ingested by and cause harm to marine life. We need everyone to say YES, include them in the single-use plastic ban. The environment will thank you. Survey available till Friday 15th January 2021, so get in quick.
Getting to Know our Volunteers at Reef Check Australia | Elly Pratt
Elly Pratt works for Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership
''I grew up on a farm in rural South Australia and have been back and forward between QLD and SA since. I have a Bachelor of Science (Marine Biology Honours) with a PhD in dolphin genomics. I now work for the Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership in the Whitsundays as the marine technical officer, helping to produce an annual report card on the health of the reef and local waterways.
The RCA training weekend was an incredible opportunity to meet other locals that are passionate about the Reef and its protection. It was inspiring to hear about all of the volunteer work that people are involved in and gave me hope for the Reef’s future. It was also great to refresh my coral species ID knowledge that I have let slip over the last few years, and a wonderful excuse to get out diving on the Reef. As I was on the trip representing the Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership, I also found that I learned a great deal about Reef Check Australia and their methods, which has inspired me to be a stronger advocate for citizen science in the NRM sphere.
Where are you from? Originally rural South Australia, now living in Airlie Beach, QLD.
What motivated you to join our team? I wanted to learn more about the Reef Check data collection methods and citizen science generally (as I was admittedly, previously a bit of a cit sci skeptic). I can now use this knowledge to advocate for the use of Reef Check (and other cit sci) data in our report card.
What project are you planning on focusing on? I’m hoping to stay involved in Reef Check events around the Whitsundays and Townsville including clean ups and surveys, as well as advocating for Reef Check in my industry.
What animal do you think best represents you? A bear - generous and protective (according to an online quiz).
Night owl or early bird? Early bird - but only recently.
Flying or invisibility? Flying.
Favourite food? Mango - 99% of the reason I moved back to NQ
Favourite Marine animal? Orca - absolutely incredible intellect
Thanks Elly 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
Surveys at Narrowneck Artificial Reef, and Wavebreak Island
After receiving notice of a sudden improvement in conditions, a small team jumped at the chance to head out to Narrowneck Artificial Reef and Wavebreak Island to undertake some surveys. The site at Narrowneck is shallow and very close to the surf zone, so a small swell (or zero) is required for this site. The artificial reef supports an interesting diversity of algae and sponges and is very popular with Black Feather Stars. It was also home to several wobbegong sharks and one really interesting sea star in a hurry transiting the seafloor. Whilst waiting for the other divers on the boat we were treated to a visit by a pod of playful dolphins, making the day even more awesome. We headed back into the seaway just before the winds increased and completed our survey at Wavebreak Island. This site is rock scree with scattered sponges and although the current was still a bit challenging we did find several nudibranchs, filefish, and a moray eel, with some very curious bream back at the start of the transect.
Our thanks to Gold Coast City Council and Gold Coast Dive Adventures for making these surveys possible.
Clean Up | Bulcock Beach, Caloundra
Last month a group of Reef Checkers undertook a clean-up dive along the Bulcock Beach Esplanade at Caloundra.
The day was a gorgeous clear and sunny day, and the team met up nice and early to beat the crowds getting ready for a long weekend. As the team enjoyed the lovely warming sunshine, Julie gave a thorough but very informative dive brief. The diving team of Julie, Jodi, Chris, Tany, and I headed down the handful of steps for an easy entry into the flat, calm waters, with Terry (on surface-watch and PR duties) strolling along the Esplanade above, and a lovely member of the first aid team from Sunshine Coast First Aid Volunteers was there to make sure we enjoyed a safe start to the long weekend.
The team collected rubbish down the length of the 100m transect line, collecting a selection of fishing debris, and land-based items including a brand new iPhone!
All in all a lovely, relaxing, and productive dive, and certainly one that all could join in and feel that they made a worthwhile contribution.
Massive thank you to my fellow divers, to the fishermen and passersby for their interest and care in what we were doing, to Julie for organising the event, and to Terry for keeping an eye on us. Big congrats to Chris for the completion of his Marine Science degree (awesome!) and Tany for completing her first Reef Check survey dive! And Jodi- nice dive knife!
Written By Peter Nicholls, RCA Scuba surveyor.
This project is funded by Healthy Land and Water (HLW) through the Australian Government National Landcare Program.
Reef Check Australia at Wynnum Fringe Festival
Brendan and Marzia joined forces last month to attend the Wynnum Fringe Festival. This is what Marzia, RCA SCUBA volunteer had to say!
'It was great connecting with our local community and to collaborate with OzFish to educate and raise awareness about how awesome Moreton Bay is, and to showcase the oh so many groups working to preserve/restore its biodiversity'.
Tangaroa Blue ReefClean at Fitzroy Island
The team from Reef Check Australia took to the shores of Fitzroy Island offshore from Cairns in Far North Queensland as part of our collaboration with Tangaroa Blue's ReefClean project. GBR Coordinator Nathan Cook, Reef Check Surveyors Mila Grinblat and Jules Lim were joined by new RCA ambassador Romy Levin for an underwater and a beach clean up on the beautiful continental island.
The team conducted one underwater clean up focusing on areas under boat moorings where rubbish is usually found. Glass bottles, clothes, and fishing line topped the list of items as well as a mask and snorkel (not surprising) and a rug. Sometimes the team decided to leave some rubbish behind because it was either too heavy or, like the breeze block we found, it had marine life growing on it.
We complemented the underwater clean up with a land-based clean up along Welcome Bay. Here the team was joined by the Activities Coordinator from Fitzroy Island, Rowena Johnson. All up we collected around 20kgs of trash underwater and another 3 kgs of rubbish along the beach.
The Reefclean project is funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and delivered by Tangaroa Blue Foundation and a number of partner organisations including Reef Check Australia
Heron Island | Clean up Activities
Last month Reef Check Australia teams had the opportunity to visit Heron Island, approximately 80km off the coast of Gladstone. A total of 17 underwater impact surveys were conducted along with an island-wide beach clean-up and an additional sweep for discarded researcher debris in the designated research zone of the island. We were assisted by an enthusiastic team of volunteers and guests from the resort and research station ranging from Cooktown to Toowoomba. The team also conducted a source reduction seminar on marine debris, common items found on the island (microplastics), how this can affect resident birds and turtles, and what people can do to reduce their reliance on and use of plastic. Similar to previous years the team found low levels of marine debris (yay!) but noticed some microplastics along the beach in addition to old and no longer utilised research equipment. We also found a dislodged and washed up shark tag logger used by scientists to collect valuable information about the movement patterns of friendly local sharks. This was returned to the research station staff to reinstall and initial stages to remove old researcher debris have been implemented.
These clean-ups were part of the Reef Clean project, funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and delivered by Tangaroa Blue Foundation and a number of partner organisations including Reef Check Australia.
Offshore Townsville | Surveys
Winds finally abated along the Queensland coast allowing our team of volunteers to head to one of our favourite survey sites. John Brewer Reef, 50NM offshore from Townsville is one of the best reefs our team has dived at. Home to the recently installed Museum of Underwater Art, Reef Check Australia has two permanent transects on the adjacent reef. Volunteers Maddy Hunt and trainee Ingrid Nashwitz joined GBR Coordinator Nathan Cook for two surveys at the site. Dominated by plating and branching Acropoorid spp corals the site is a wonderful representation of a healthy reef. At least on the reef flat. Disturbances from crown-of-thorns starfish have compromised its health deeper and at other locations across John Brewer highlighting the diversity that exists across the GBR. The team completed Reef Check Surveys, 6 GBRMPA Reef Health and Impact Surveys and, 2 CoralWatch coral health surveys, and one Great Barrier Reef Census survey in partnership with the Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef.
These surveys were completed as part of Reef Ecologic’s Integrated Coral Reef Citizen Science Program is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. Read more at ReefEcologic.
Reviews and details on books, documentaries, and podcasts that we have come across, & wanted to share.
Follow the Moon Home | By Philippe Cousteau & Deborah Hopkinson | (A Children's book)
A triumphant story of environmental activism, community, and friendship: Acclaimed activist Philippe Cousteau and renowned author Deborah Hopkinson team up to offer a story of the powerful difference young people can make in the world. Meet Viv, who has a new home and a new school by the sea, and follow her as she finds her way in a new place and helps bring together a whole community to save the sea turtles of the South Carolina coast.
In a recent live event from the Great Barrier Reef, witness one of the world's greatest natural spectacles - the annual phenomenon of the majestic mass coral spawn. Hosted by Hamish Macdonald, Brooke Satchwell and Dr Jordan Nguyen.
Watch now on ABC iView
Conversations with change-catalysts, culture-shifters, and more than a few troublemakers who are innovating, creating and daring to lead.
A really great podcast to check out. Available on Spotify.
Current Coral Affairs
Check out some of the latest news and research about our ocean:
Get with the Program
Here's what we've got coming up in the next few weeks, keep checking the website for more updates.
- Friday, 11 December 2020: Yoga Under The Sea
- Thursday, 31 December 2020: Thrive 2021 NYE Experience
- Saturday, 30 January 2021: SAVE THE DATE | Clean-up for the Hatchlings
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.