Happy New Year from the Team at Reef Check Australia. We hope you enjoyed the festive season as much as we did. Although we were on a short break, some of the team still managed to squeeze in a couple of surveys, but here we bring you some of the activities that we completed last year but could not fit in previous emails.
This months email includes:
- Action of the Month: Slide slowly and deliberately into the new year.
- News from the Field
- Brain Food
- Current Coral Affairs
- Get With the Program
Slide slowly and deliberately into the new year!
January 2023. Lets start off on the right foot; and slip slowly but purposefully into the new year gracefully.
We love making waves. We believe that as individuals we create ripples, and when together these ripples create waves. But 2022 took a really heavy toll on many of us, and so it is with this in mind that instead of screaming our announcement and intentions to the world as 2023 kicks off, our Action of the Month is to allocate time to reflect on your successes from the past year, and the areas that challenged you, and make the necessary adjustments for this brand new sparkling year.
It's not about massive changes, but instead subtly shifting to what works best for you, and gently sliding into this new year, cool calm and collected. As a good friend once chanted on a 4-day hike up a very steep climb; ‘just be cool, like a cucumber in the fridge’.
So be like the cucumber in the fridge. Be cool. And take your entry back into your work life the same way you eat an elephant*; one small bite at a time.
* We did not, do not, nor recommend eating any elephants.
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
Narrowneck Artificial Reef Health Survey
Reef Check Australia has been monitoring Southeast Queensland reefs since 2007, and Narrowneck Artificial Reef since 2007, as part of a partnership with City of Gold Coast to monitor the health of reefs in the area, and the growth of this artificial reef structure.
Narrowneck reef (sometimes called “Gold Coast Reef”) is an artificial reef that was constructed in 1999. At 70,000 cubic meters, it holds the title for the largest multi-purpose reef ever constructed. The reef was designed primarily as a shoreline stabilisation structure. Creating better surfing waves was a secondary concern. However, it’s generally accepted that it did improve the quality of surf during its earlier years by improving the shape and frequency of rideable waves.
Due to degradation, the reef was refurbished in 2017 and 2018, providing improved shoreline stabilisation and an increase in waves. However anecdotal information suggests the reef is seldom surfed.
The site supports a large variety of algae with sponges and ascidians. Unfortunately the limited visibility and strong surge made photography very difficult and we were unable to obtain good quality photographs at this site for this year.
Reef Check Acknowledge and pay respects to the people of the Yugambeh language region of the Gold Coast and all their descendants both past and present. We also acknowledge the many Aboriginal people from other regions as well as Torres Strait and South Sea Islander people who now live in the local area and have made an important contribution to the community.
This survey was made possible by grant funding from the City of Gold Coast Catchment and Citizen Science Grant
Great Barrier Reef
Hook Island Clean Up
The Reef Check Australia team headed out to Hook Island off the Whitsundays to conduct our annual underwater and beach clean up as part of Tangaroa Blue's Reef Clean project. At this site we have previously found small amounts of debris, however this time we were pleasantly surprised to find a total of just 13 items of debris amongst the rocks and rubbles along the beach.
The dive team also took to the water to conduct an underwater clean up, finding only a minimal amount of debris during their dive.
A massive shout out to Whitsunday Paradise Explorer for taking us out to this location, and our dedicated team of old and new volunteers for all your efforts!
Reef Check Australia Acknowledge the Ngaro people of the Whitsundays as the Traditional Owners of the land and sea country where these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging.
This project is supported by Tangaroa Blue 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.
Luncheon Bay - Hook Island Surveys
The GBR Reef Check survey team have busy completing surveys at numerous reefs on Ngaro Country around the Whitsunday region. One of our first stops was Luncheon Bay on Hook Island, a north-east facing bay which was severely affected by Cyclone Debbie in 2017. Prior to the cyclone, coral cover was over 50%, consisting near-equally of hard and soft corals. Following the devastation of Cyclone Debbie, coral cover has been less than 15%, with the rest of the substrate consisting of sand, rubble and rock.
The area is starting to recover, with many coral recruits, particularly Acropora, observed throughout the site. Whilst minimal anthropogenic impacts were observed on any corals, natural predation damage was high with the majority of the tips of branching coral being bitten off by fish!
A massive shout out to Whitsunday Paradise Explorer for taking us out to this location, Aqua dive for suppling tanks, and our amazing team of old and new volunteers for your dedication and hard work! This project is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government's Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
We acknowledge the Ngaro people of the Whitsundays as the Traditional Owners of the land and sea country where these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging.
Hayman Island - Surveys
Reef Check Australia has been conducting reef health surveys in the reefs found around the Whitsundays for more than 20 years. Whilst this region has some amazing sites with an abundance of coral, others aren’t so healthy due to the impact of Cyclone Debbie in 2017. The reef in Blue Pearl Bay on the western side of Hayman Island is one of these areas affected by cyclone Debbie.
Prior to cyclone Debbie, live coral accounted for more than 50% of the substrate cover, however following the cyclone this was reduced to below 5% live coral cover in some areas. One of our survey sites is seeing this area starting to recover with coral cover slowly increasing and is currently at 30%, however the other site still only has less than 5% live coral cover. However, there are other signs of life, with many juvenile giant clams living amongst the dead coral and rock. Unfortunately even with the current 26 degree waters, we did observe some coral bleaching, in particular this Pocillopora which was completely bleached.
A massive shout out to Whitsunday Paradise Explorer for taking us out to this location and all your assistance of making our day run smoothly, Aquadive for providing dive gear and tanks for hire, and our dedicated team of old and new volunteers for all your efforts! This project is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government's Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
Reef Check Acknowledge the Ngaro people of the Whitsundays as the Traditional Owners of the land and sea country where these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging.
Heron Island Beach Clean Up
Reef Check Australia completed a beach cleanup as part of our annual expedition to Heron Island for Tangaroa Blue's Reefclean project. We have been visiting this site for over 10 years and have been working with UQ's Heron Island Research Station and the Heron Island Resort to identify and reduce debris on the island which is a green sea turtle and noddy tern and shearwater bird nesting site. After a presentation about reef ecosystem health and marine debris, a few brave souls braved the wind and wet and joined Reef Check Australia in collecting 2.45kg of debris on our island wide beach clean-up equating to 329 items, less than previous years. After speaking with community leaders from both institutions on the island we learnt that regular cleanups are now part of staff and volunteer duties which says a lot about how positive action leads to more positive action!
Huge thankyou to Heron Island Research Station and the Heron Island Resort for the continued support and our volunteers for all your efforts!
Reef Check Australia Acknowledge the Gooreng Gooreng, Gurang, Bailai and Taribelang Bunda peoples as the Traditional Owners of the land and sea country where these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging.
This project is supported by Tangaroa Blue 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.
Reviews and details on books, documentaries, and podcasts that we have come across, & wanted to share.
If you are a regular reader of Dive Log magazine you will have come across numerous articles written by Mike Scotland. Mike has put together this book which is an educational course on invertebrate marine life supported by 299 colour photos. For more information or to purchase a copy email [email protected] or [email protected]
Current Coral Affairs
Check out some of the latest news and research about our ocean
What can we learn from fish ear bones?
Get with the Program
Here's what we've got coming up in the next few weeks, keep checking the website for more updates.
Saturday 4 February | Clean Up for the Hatchlings, Sunshine Coast. Register on the Sunshine Coast Council website for the land based clean up or email [email protected] if you want to join in the snorkel.
Sunday 5 March | Clean Up Australia Day Beach Clean Up - Straddie
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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