Around the Reef - Reef Check Australia - November Update

November 10, 2020

Dear friend - 

Welcome to the November Edition of 'Around the Reef'. Things have been getting exciting at Reef Check Australia. We have been working hard on new ways to help save the reef in these trying times. Our team has been out and about getting the word out and keeping an eye on the reef. New friends and volunteers have joined and we are excitedly cruising into the festive season.

Check out our events section to see what we will be getting up to over the next few weeks.

  • Action of the Month: A Month of 'Re's' 
  • Mooloolah River Cruise
  • Beer Yoga with Reef Check Austalia
  • Crafternoon Catch-up
  • Getting to know our volunteers
  • News from the Field
  • Brain Food
  • Current Coral Affairs
  • Get With the Program

A Month of 'Re's'

This month’s action is all about the ‘RE’. What the heck does that mean I hear you say. Well, it's National Recycling Week this week, and in the spirit of the 3 RE’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) we wanted to take a closer look at all the ‘RE’s’ we could think of and see how we might RE-align ourselves with the very best version of ourselves, for the sake of the planet as a whole.

This month's action of the month is to RE-duce any negative habits we might have slipped into during the year, and to RE-introduce good habits. They can be big or small. It's up to you how much you want to get RE-al about. We think we could all RE-pair more items where possible, RE-duce our consumption of single-use items, RE-use and RE-purpose what we can, and RE-cycle whatever is leftover (hopefully not much!). While we are at it, let's take a moment to RE-flect on the positive things that have come out of the year so far (keep that #attitudeofgratitude going!), despite being a particularly tough year for everyone, and make sure to take some time out to RE-fill your cup. Self-care is important. So RE-lax. RE-set. RE-charge and RE-juvenate, so you can be ready for the silly season. And let's RE-ach out and RE-connect with loved ones, even if you can't physically be close. Write a good old fashioned letter, and post it (we can RE-commend a great set of marine-based cards here). Let's RE-think about what we RE-ally need in life, stay safe, and RE-remember that we are all in this together.


One of our Ambassadors showing an example of how we can RE-pair something that still has a lot of life in it. 



Check out a few of our local heroes who are also doing the 'Re' Action. If you are looking for some beautiful gifts and a way to help support Reef Check Australia at the same time, Just click on their links below:




Let's go for a cruise on the Mooloolah River

For those of you who have not heard of Saltwater Eco Tours yet, make sure you add this local adventure one to check out.

Business Owner and operator, Simon Thornalley had this to say of the launch of his new company:
"I am honoured and proud to launch a business that encompasses my passion for culture, as well as maritime history and sailing. Sustainable tourism plays a crucial role in today's society and in the year of Indigenous tourism I am excited to launch Saltwater Eco Tours on the Sunshine Coast."

The start of the school holidays saw the official launch of Saltwater Eco Tours, a new, highly anticipated, water-based, Indigenous visitor experience on the Sunshine Coast. Jumping onboard the ‘Spray of the Coral Coast’ we learned all about her history, mixed in amongst Gubbi Gubbi stories of the mountains that surround us. This beautiful vessel is the oldest known of her kind in Australia. Made in 1908, Captain Joshua Slocum, the first person to complete a solo circumnavigation around the globe aboard his vessel ‘Spray’, agreed to provide his yacht's blueprints to have a replica made.

It was this replica that would see many owners and sail many seas, to eventually call the Sunshine Coast home.

As we hopped on board this historical beauty, the sun was out, the sky was blue, and I was welcomed with lemon myrtle and mint water, fresh Mooloolaba prawns, and a delicious glass of bubbles. What a way to kick off the weekend! I was fortunate enough to join guests from along the South East Queensland coastline to jump on board for the official launch of this awesome new experience. The vessel moves silently through the waterways of Mooloolaba, silent except for the hilarious anecdotes and spins on stories, as told by Kerry Neil.

What a beautiful way to see our backyard. To check out what tours they have coming up, check out their Facebook page. And stay tuned for a couple of awesome collaborations in the mix, with Reef Check Australia

You can check out more here: Saltwater Eco Tours

  This project has been proudly supported by Sunshine Coast Council’s grants program


 Reef Check Australia Event: Beer Yoga


Our monthly beer yoga has been a real hit. So one of our fabulous Reef Check Ambassadors, Tara Humphries, has given us a rundown on just what beer yoga actually is.

''Woo hoo, beer yoga!

After weeks of seeing the fun on social media, and the events selling out, I finally managed to grab myself a ticket to Beer Yoga at the Brewhouse.

It was my first beer yoga event and I thoroughly enjoyed it, I was impressed to see so many people showing up to raise money for a great cause such as Reef Check!

Erin from Varsha Yoga lead us through an hour-long Vinyasa yoga class with awesome music and a really good happy vibe. There were quite a few giggles, as we all tried to master the delicate art of beer appreciation, mediation, and yoga. It was an absolute smashing yoga class filled with lovely people to have a laugh and a beer with.

I cannot wait for the next one!''

Thanks so much to all involved, especially Erin, Varsha Yoga, Yourmates Brewery, Yourmates Brewhouse, and all the awesome humans who turned up for a great cause and a fun event!

If you would like to be part of the next session, take a look at our event section below, and get in fast to get your ticket.


Crafternoon Catch-Up

Part of being in the Reef Check Australia family is getting together to help out with other important tasks from time to time.

Recently a group of us had lots of fun assembling our REEFSearch Field Kits; a cool underwater slate and field guide that suits any age, and that encourages a better understanding of what we are looking at when we are exploring our beautiful reefs.

No matter what we are doing, either above or below the ocean, we always have a giggle catching up and it’s also a great way to exchange ideas with fellow reef checkers!

Keen to get your hands on one of our freshly made REEFSearch Kits? Head on over to the SeaStore and grab one in time for the holidays!



Getting to Know our Volunteers at Reef Check Australia

Here at RCA, we are all about our volunteers as they are the backbone of what we are all about. So we wanted to introduce you to some of these wonderful humans and find out what makes them tick, by asking a few questions.

This month we have been chatting with Amber. 

Where are you from? Originally from chilly Melbourne but moved to Queensland when I was a kid ... and the rest is history! Well, not quite. I now live in West End, Brisbane, only a few blocks from Reef Check!!

What motivated you to join our team? I’ve been wanting to join the team for so long! I am obsessed with Reef Check’s Coast to Coral talks and I also have some great friends who are ambassadors and surveyors. I really wanted to take my surveying skills to the next level and join my friends on upcoming SEQ surveys.

What project are you planning on focusing on? I can't wait to put my Reef Check training into practice as soon as possible and undertake some SEQ surveys. I’ve also signed up for the Mooloolaba Ecological Assessment and Mapping (MEAM) Project, so fingers crossed I get to be a part of that. I’m keen to contribute as much as I can to citizen science projects, including all the great work that CoralWatch does. I would love to get more involved with coral restoration projects and I want to continue engaging with the community about the impacts of climate change and what we can do for the future of our reefs.

What animal do you think best represents you? As I’m creative, I would say the Japanese Pufferfish - the artist of the sea! They work tirelessly to create a masterpiece while fighting the elements. Sadly, I am nowhere near as talented as the little pufferfish!!

Night owl or early bird? Early bird. Watching the sunrise is a beautiful way to start the day!

Flying or invisibility? Definitely flying! But I’d need to practice my landing as I suspect I’d be like the Greatest American Hero. Yet another awesome 80s tv show!!!

Favourite food? Mangoes! I wait all year for the taste of summer!!

Favourite Marine animal? Jellyfish! They are absolutely fascinating. From the mesmerising light shows of the deep to the Benjamin Button immortal jellies who can reverse the aging process, jellies are incredible! Swimming in Jellyfish Lake in Palau surrounded by swarms of Moon and Golden jellies was like being in a magical wonderland! I never wanted to leave.

Thanks Amber 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


Outrigger Clean-up Dive

We’re proud to say our volunteer SEQ coordinator Emily, completed her first RCA clean-up dive after completing her ReefCheck EcoDiver qualifications with us all the way back in March! Here’s Ems update on how the dive went…

Cheers to my first official RCA clean-up dive!

Reef Check has taken me to some pretty incredible local reef sites but it’s not all beautiful vis and great conditions…. Saturdays dive site was ingloriously, near shore, silty, shallow water. We turned up our patience and sifted along the bottom, unhooking lures and cutting through fishing line for a solid 70 minutes at a max depth of 2.7m at the Golden Beach boat ramp in Caloundra. We pulled a whopping 10kg of debris, around 1.5km of fishing line, 41 lures, along with straws, rope, bottles, sinkers, rings, and spearfishing spears…

Researchers believe it will take around 600 years for monofilament fishing line to biodegrade in our oceans and it only took us 70 minutes to pick up 1.5km of it… It’s always confronting to find so much destruction in such a small area, but like the glass bottle below, it’s pretty incredible to see how nature adapts to our neglect! The chance to participate in clean up dives and make a difference to the local ocean area we love, make the good diving days, that much better!

These are the kinds of community events with so much love and collaboration behind the scenes and with our ladies, Julie, Emily, Tania, and Jodi diving. We had Terry on surface watch and Elliot as our medic on stand by. Thanks to Bradys Fruit Barn in Palmwoods for supplying us with some onions bags! And importantly the team at Tangaroa Blue collecting the data through AMDI, working on solutions to stop litter at the source!

If you want to get involved with one of RCA’s clean-ups, keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming events or join the mailing list to be notified!


This project is funded by Healthy Land and Water (HLW) through the Australian Government National Landcare Program.



Reef Check Australia at Moreton Kids Festival, Strathpine

The annual Moreton Kids Festival was held again this year but under COVID safeguards at Pine River Park, Strathpine. 7,500 kids, parents, and grandparents turned up and were not disappointed. Just as soon as you walked through the ticket gates, you were in the “Green Kids World” which was one of the 5 worlds on a beautiful Sunday.

Many families were turned away because of COVID limits placed on the one-day event. Danni, Gina, Jodi, and I, no doubt others pulled the event together for the day. A day before the Kids Fest, and at the last minute, I raced down to the local fabric shop and purchased 5 meters of green material and threaded and stitched the two halves together. This made for a great “Green Screen” and with my trusty iPad and a green screen app, we were all set for the day.

The display table was set up and just as soon as the gates opened Gina was busy photographing! 60 photos were taken and shared: a MASSIVE achievement considering everything else that was going on at the same time.

Big thanks to the UQ Marine Society who also lent a hand! In all, it was a great day and a great display by Reef Check Australia.

Written by Colin Scobie, Reef Check Australia Ambassador.




North Queensland

Reef Survey at Fitzroy Island

The team from Reef Check Australia conducted a second Reef Check Reef Health survey at Welcome Bay on Fitzroy Island offshore from Cairns. GBR Coordinator Nathan Cook, Reef Check Surveyors Mila Grinblat, and Jules Lim completed surveys of fish, invertebrates, impacts, and the substrate.

The visibility was great and the reef is looking in pretty good condition. With the water temperature heating up at 27 degrees we are hopeful that this summer remains relatively cool in light of the expected La-Nina conditions but will be keeping an eye on the weather as the New Year approaches.

ReefClean | Beach & Underwater Cleanup

Last month Tangaroa Blue hosted a ReefClean beach and underwater cleanup at Luncheon Bay, Hook Island in the Whitsundays region of the Great Barrier Reef. Whilst we were pleased to find no trash underwater despite our best efforts our team collected almost 5kg of trash from along the beach, 4 more kilograms than when we visited in May earlier this year. However, better out than in, we say! While we were in the area, we took the opportunity to conduct a number of Reef Check Australia, Coral Watch, and GBMPA’s Eye on the Reef surveys with our new cohort of reef ambassadors including the Oui’s, a local family of Traditional Owners and Ngaro people based in the Bowen region.


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. HUGE Mununundo (Ngaro language for "Thank You") to James, Tyler, and the entire @oceanrafting team for the photos and for supporting our efforts to collect marine debris and all the data!


Whitsunday's Surveyor & Ambassador Liveaboard Training

We've been incredibly busy up here in the Great Barrier Reef. Two weekends ago Reef Check Australia was lucky enough to head over to the Whitsundays with True Blue Sailing aboard New Horizon and 8 reef surveyor and 11 reef ambassador trainees. Reef Check Australia is all about citizen science so it was fantastic to have a wide range of saltlovers onboard learning about reef health monitoring and community education. We had Naro Traditional Owners, Marine science students, travelers, Townsvillians, local Whitsundays residents and even some from SE Qld join our tribe of salty ocean lovers. We conducted Reef Check Australia training, Coralwatch surveys, Eye on the Reef surveys, and can you believe we even fitted in some Great barrier reef census data. We also have 5 more thalassophiles that will be joining our team after a few more t's are crossed and i's are dotted.

Here are our favourite quotes from the weekend:

"My surveyor dives were some of the best dives I’ve ever done. It combined everything I love. A magical underwater wonderland, curiosity, and knowledge. Being able to study the reef in detail and discuss what I was looking at while underwater (using slates) was incredible. It was like floating in my own documentary. I loved it!! And I learnt so much!!!" - Amber, Coral Watch Ambassador, and Reef Check Australia Surveyor.

"I felt incredibly inspired and so thankful to have connected with a group of amazing reef advocates, the best part of the experience for me was meeting a great group of like-minded individuals, learning about everyone's backgrounds, and seeing how people from such different walks of life can come together with a common passion and goal. The ability to make a positive change is enhanced when you can bring together a group like the RC ambassadors and surveyors." - Arnikah, Reef Check Australia Ambassador, and Reef Ecologic Intern.

"If sailing the Whitsundays with a group of diverse, knowledgeable and super fun people learning all about coral reefs, monitoring their health and generally having an awesome time wasn’t enough - spending evenings under millions of stars, watching dolphins and sharks feed around the boat was beyond incredible! I’ve come away with new friends, mentors, and a serious drive to protect our oceans and everything in them." - Romy, Reef Check Australia Ambassador.

Congratulations to our new team members, and make sure you keep a lookout for some great new projects and events in this area of our beautiful GBR and even SE Qld!


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. Thank you also to TrueBlue Sailing for hosting us and Aquadive for supporting our team with gear.



Brain Food

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


  Narwhals: Arctic Whales in a Melting World

Among all the large whales on Earth, the most unusual and least studied is the narwhal, the northernmost whale on the planet, and the one most threatened by global warming. Narwhals thrive in the fjords and inlets of northern Canada and Greenland. These elusive whales, whose long tusks were the stuff of medieval European myths and Inuit legends, are uniquely adapted to the Arctic ecosystem and are able to dive below thick sheets of ice to depths of up to 1,500 meters in search of their prey-halibut, cod, and squid.


 David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet

Celebrated British naturalist Sir David Attenborough has a broadcasting career spanning over six decades. He has visited every continent on the globe, exploring the wild places of our planet and bringing the wonders of the living world to audiences worldwide through ground-breaking natural history series. His work includes Life on Earth, Planet Earth, and more recently the Netflix original documentary series Our Planet.

Streaming now on Netflix


  Science Vs

Science Vs takes on fads, trends, and the opinionated mob to find out what’s fact, what’s not, and what’s somewhere in between.

A really great podcast to check out. Available on most platforms and online here.


Current Coral Affairs

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


 Our Oceans Are Capturing More Carbon Than Expected – Underestimated by Up to 900,000,000 Metric Tons of Carbon per year. - Read more


 'Detached' reef bigger than Empire State building discovered in 500 meters of water off Queensland - Read more


 The  Arctic and Antarctic Sea Ice: How Are They Different? -  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. 


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. 



Copyright © 2020 Reef Check Australia, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:

Reef Check Australia
1/377 Montague Rd
West End, QLD 4101

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