Around the Reef - Reef Check Australia - May 2023

May 30, 2023

Dear {{recipient.first_name_or_friend}} 

Whilst our teams in the GBR have been a little quiet in the last month, our SEQ teams have been busy completing surveys and clean-ups before the latest round of windy weather arrived. 

This months email includes:

  • Action of the Month: Mindfulness in May
  • News from the Field
  • Brain Food
  • Current Coral Affairs
  • Get With the Program

Mindfulness in May

How have you spent your time today?  Did you invest it? Did you spend it? Did you waste it away? Each and every one of us has 86,400 seconds each and every day. Just think; if each day you were given $86,400.00 to spend, but at midnight the balance went to $0.. what would you do? You would spend as much as you could, each day, right? Well, TIME is more precious than any amount of money, so why do we spend so much of it doing things that don't fulfill us? Take some time to think about your daily 86,400 seconds; Where is your time being used? If you don’t like what you see.. change it. which brings us to this months action of the month;

Be mindful of where you allocate your time.

No one wants to end up regretting their decisions at the end of their life. So, work hard, but play harder. Spend time with friends, family, loved ones. Go on that adventure. Learn that new skill. Have courage to do the things you want to do and don’t wait until ‘X’ happens to allow yourself to live.

And whilst we are on the topic of mindfulness.. Reef Check Australia is the charity partner with a fabulous group called the Flow State Experience who run PRANAFEST- a 3 day wellness festival on the Sunshine Coast, (this year June 2-5). This event is full of amazing experiences designed to encourage connection back to yourself, to nature, and to the world around you. In short; its all about mindfulness. Living in the moment, and doing it surrounded by forest and water, and an array of experiences (yoga, dance, ice baths, breathwork, storytelling, star gazing, relaxing). So if you are looking for an opportunity to delve deeply into mindfulness.. we highly recommend checking it out! And for all our Reef Check Australia friends we have a SUPER SPECIAL discount code just for all of you… Head on over to Humanitix and enter REEFCHECKPRANA for your exclusive discount code!!

The point is to start small. Understand where your 86,400 seconds of time and energy goes, and tweak it if it’s not right. Make a plan to meditate, to be present and watch how quickly your resilience grows.


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

La Balsa Park, Survey Dive

Remembering the clearest water we had on our clean up dive, the Reef Check Australia team was excited to jump in and check out the site, and see how much it might have changed since our last reef health monitoring survey here.

Reef Check Australia has been monitoring La Balsa as a reef health monitoring site in 2018 due to a growing interest in the area. Plenty of critters utilise this area as a nursery, and due to its location, the substrate and animals that live there change semi regularly.

The water was certainly clear, with the substrate consisting of lots of rock with turf algae, sand, a few bryozoans, a macro algae called Padina, and several large solitary ascidians. We were lucky enough to spot two cleaner shrimp, two Drupella snails, and a collector urchin amongst plenty of fishing line along the transect (removed once counted, and if safe to do so).

We also spotted several flatworms which we have never spotted in the area before. They are not new to the Sunshine Coast, but new to this area. Interestingly, we did not find any other flatworm or nudibranch along the transect area. We did however find a set of small turtle remains.

Thankyou to Scuba World for the tanks and to our volunteer Kade Chambers who completed his first Reef Check Australia survey dive after completing his training late last year. We hope it’s the first of many!

Reef Check Acknowledge the Kabi Kabi people of the Sunshine Coast, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and future.

This project is supported by the Sunshine Coast Council’s Environmental Levy Partnerships Grant.


Moreton Bay - St Helena - Survey Dives

Despite heavy rains in the lead up, Moreton Bay put on a show for our team, showing just how gorgeous the on-water conditions can be, meaning this tiny but mighty Reef Check Australia team was able to get out and conduct a summer reef health survey at Saint Helena Island, to document any changes to the reef in the area.

Reef Check Australia has been monitoring Southeast Queensland reefs since 2007, and Saint Helena Island since 2017, as part of a partnership with Port of Brisbane to monitor the effects of activities in the Bay. These locations are monitored twice a year (summer and winter) to detect any seasonal changes.

St Helena Island is located 5km from the mouth of the Brisbane River. The island itself has an interesting history. From 1867 it operated as a high security colonial prison, operating for 65 years as a self sufficient set up, complete with lime kiln, sugar refinery, a sugar cane plantation, and almost no native vegetation due to its removal early on.

Reef Check Australia has two long term monitoring sites around the island. Ray of Sunshine, is towards the south east, and has a greater density of hard corals than Palindrome which is near the jetty, and has a patchy reef full of both hard and soft corals.

Both sites were quite green underwater, although it was clearer at Ray of Sunshine than Palindrome. Ray of Sunshine has plenty of hard coral colonies, although on this particular occasion, there was a high number of bleached hard corals recorded. High silt loading was also recorded (over an inch deep!), as well as plenty of macro algae, although at this site it appeared to have more Padina than Sargassum.

Palindrome had a high level of silt and purple filamentous nutrient indicator algae covering almost every surface. The macroalgae Sargassum also took up large areas of the site, offering refuge to a variety of marine creatures including a wobbegong, Drupella snails and a lobster.  A small amount of marine debris was recorded; mostly glass bottles.

We look forward to heading out again in a few months to continue monitoring any changes that might occur as a part of this long term monitoring program.

Thankyou to Go Dive Brisbane for getting us to our reef health monitoring site. We appreciate that many of the sites we visit are not regularly on the tourist circuit, although we believe they should be!

Reef Check Acknowledge the Quandamooka people, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and future.

This project is supported by the Port of Brisbane as a part of their environmental monitoring program.


Ray of Sunshine - Site Photo

Palindrome - Soft Coral

Peel Island - Land Based Clean Up

The Reef Check Australia team headed out to Peel Island, Moreton Bay at the end of March to conduct a beach clean-up along Horseshoe Bay on Peel Island, Moreton Bay. Peel Island is a small, heritage-listed island and national park located in Moreton Bay, just 4km from the mainland at Cleveland. The island is known for its natural beauty and wildlife enjoyed by locals and visitors alike and is accessed only by boat or watercraft.

Before European settlement, Peel Island was known to the local Quandamooka people as Teerk Roo Ra (Place of Many Shells).

In the mid-19th century, Peel Island was used as a quarantine station for Brisbane. Incoming ships would stop at the island, disembark passengers for a quarantine period and be fumigated and scrubbed down before heading into Brisbane. At the start of the 20th century it was used as an asylum for vagrants, and then a sisal farm.

Between 1907 and 1959 the island was a leper colony. Hundreds of people who contracted the disease were sent to the island. As the only intact example of a multiracial lazaret in Australia it is now a protected heritage site.

In 2007, the island was declared as Teerk Roo Ra National Park and Conservation Park.

Just over 8.5kgs of lightweight rubbish was collected in two hours from an 800m stretch of beach. Debris collected included paint lids, lots of plastic food packaging, pegs and alcohol containers.

An additional 50kg of debris was also recorded and reported to local authorities to assist with removal, made up of metal sheets, wooden pallets, piles of rubbish bags including camping equipment, and building supplies.

Remember, every little bit counts.  If you see rubbish on the beach; pick it up. Take away your own rubbish when you leave and together, we can and will make an ocean of difference.

Reef Check Acknowledge the Quandamooka people, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging.

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


Amity Point, Stradbroke Island, Survey Dive

With a forecast for potential heavy rain falls and storms leading up to the weekend of the survey, the team was watching the weather with eagle eyes and baited breath for the final call on if the survey would go ahead.  Safety is out number one priority for all our volunteers, so decisions are not made lightly when we choose to proceed or cancel.

Contrary to the initial forecast, the team was greeted by perfect conditions at Amity Point. Light easterly winds, fine, sunny weather and 8m – 10m of underwater visibility!

Amity Point is located on the northwest end of North Stradbroke Island, and is frequented by vast numbers of fishers, boaters and divers all year round. The site sits adjacent to a busy boat ramp and artificial rock wall near a popular camping and fishing ground. Whilst there is limited hard and soft coral, the site hosts extensive marine life including unusual creatures like cuttlefish and ghost pipefish.

Our team consisted of 5 RCA members – including divers and a surface watch. We completed a reef health monitoring survey at Site 2. This site was set up in 2016 after we had conducted a clean-up, and recognised just how diverse this site is, and the importance of monitoring it long term.

Plenty of wobbegong sharks were sighted on the transect plus dozens of diadema sea urchins, an octopus, banded coral shrimp and plenty of anemones with fish. Turf algae covered the site, and we found no nutrient indicator algae; a great sign. This site has an unexpected abundance of life but is heavily impacted by recreational fishing activities.

Thanks to all the volunteers and organisers who made this trip a success!

Reef Check acknowledges the Quandamooka people of Minjerribah, the Traditional Custodians of the land, sea and country on which these activities took place, and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging.

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

Great Barrier Reef

Hook Island Underwater and Land Based Clean Up 

After postponing due to a forecast of strong winds over the easter weekend, our team was able to get out to Hook Island 2 days later in absolutely beautiful conditions. Our aim was to conduct an underwater and beach clean up at Luncheon Bay as part of Tangaroa Blue Foundation’s ReefClean project.

Our team of divers and snorkellers were happy to find no rubbish underwater impacting the stunning reef in this location, despite the large number of boats in the area. Once we went ashore however, we did find a few items of plastic, including a foreign bleach bottle and the always present, single thong. The majority of the debris was weathered and thus likely to have been in the ocean for some time.

Thanks to John at Whitsunday Paradise Explorer for making this happen so quickly after the postponement and getting us to site and Aquadive for supplying the tanks. These surveys were conducted on the traditional lands and sea country of the Ngaro People of the Whitsundays. We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians and their Elders past, present and emerging.

This project is supported by Tangaroa Blue Foundation through ReefClean; a project funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust.  ReefClean is a project to remove and reduce marine debris impacting the Great Barrier Reef.

Cowboys Community Corner and Toyota Hilux Kick

Recently our organisation was delighted to host a stall in the Community Corner at the Queensland Country Bank Stadium for the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys match against the Gold Coast Titans. We were even more delighted to be given the opportunity to try to win some money for our organisation in the Cowboys Toyota Hilux Kick. This involves having one person be present for an interview in front of the stadium full of people and another person to kick a footy through the goal posts into the back of a “Toyota Hilux”. For each kick that makes it, $100 is donated to the organisation, up to a maximum of $1000. Luckily for us, we had two awesome volunteers who stepped up to the challenge. Our kicker nailed 9 goals within the allocated 60 seconds and the crowd learnt a little about who Reef Check Australia are, and what we do. To see our volunteers in action head to: Toyota Hilux Kick Round 4

We would like to thank the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys for this opportunity and our volunteers, Chris Hopper for doing the interview and Jordan Ivey for being an incredible kicker. We also acknowledge the Bindal and Wulgurukaba People, the traditional custodians of the land on which this event took place, and their elders past, present and emerging.

Attendance at this event was made possible by support from Townsville City Council through their Creek to Coral program.


Brain Food

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

Here are a couple of books that we have come across that sound interesting. If you do happen to read them - send us a line and let us know!

Sound of the Sea by Cynthia Barnett: A history of seashells and the animals that make them.

The Underworld: Journeys to the Depths of the Ocean by Susan Casey. Join Susan as she takes us on a journey through deep-sea exploration and the importance of this environment to our future. (Release due August 1).


Current Coral Affairs

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

Have you ever seen a Sea Spider?

Sea spiders are strange creatures, and the gangly lancer sea spider is one of the strangest of all

Read in: Discover Wildlife

What is marine cloud brightening?

Check it out at: Great Barrier Reef Foundation


What are sea urchins?

Check out this guide to the fascinating and strange, if somewhat prickly, creature that inhabits to sea floor. 

Discover Wildlife - Sea Urchins

Get with the Program

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

2 May | Coast to Coral - Microbes and Coral Larval Settlement - register on our website,

6 May | Nurture Fest - an entertainment packed, alcohol free, family festival at Lake Kawana - Buy your tickets here

6 May | Underwater and Beach Clean Up - Alma Bay - Magnetic Island - contact [email protected] for details.

7 May | Underwater and Beach Clean Up - Nelly Bay - Magnetic Island - contact [email protected] for details.

4 June | EcoFiesta Cairns - Come visit our team - see here for more details

4 June | LEAF - Griffith Uni Campus Meadowbook - click here 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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