Around the Reef - Reef Check Australia - September 2022

November 19, 2022

Dear {{recipient.first_name_or_friend}} 

Winter is finally over and our teams have been out and about doing more cleanups and surveys around the Sunshine Coast, in Moreton Bay and around the Great Barrier Reef. We have heaps more coming up plus the chance to win tickets to the Caloundra Music Festival. Check it all out below.

This months email includes:

  • Action of the Month: Spring into Spring
  • News from the Field
  • Brain Food
  • Current Coral Affairs
  • Get With the Program

Get out of hibernation, and spring into spring

Photo by Erik-Jan Leusink on Unsplash

This past winter has been cold. Reports everywhere have shown it to be the coldest on record for many places. One of our long-term monitoring sites off the Sunshine Coast dropped to just 17 degrees in the water; the coldest we have ever dived it, Antarctic fur seals were spotted on K’gari, with seals also found along the Sunshine Coast, and as far as Lady Elliot Island! Fires, storms and the most amount of rain during winter we have ever had, with meteorological predictions suggesting continued weather anomalies well into next year.

It seems like many of us may have taken all of these elements as a sign. We tried to get up. Even went as far as to put the uggies on, maybe even a beanie. Then we stepped out into the rain and went NOPE and headed back to bed. True hibernation for the winter style.

Resting and recuperating is great for the mind and body. But eventually, we do have to get up and face the world again.  And with the potential promise of at least a little bit of sunny weather with Spring around the corner, what better time to ditch the tracksuit, start stretching and SPRING INTO SPRING!

With only 4 months of 2022 left, let’s make the most of it. Now is the time to assess where you are at; are you on track for the year?

And whilst you are looking for ways to get back out there… Why not join us on our next adventure?  We have so many opportunities for you to join in!  Beach clean ups, Reef Ambassador courses, Reef Health survey courses and new citizen science opportunities all available.  So if you are interested, make sure to reach out!

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

Currimundi Surveys

In August our team headed out to the lovely Currimundi Reef to complete our surveys. Whilst the surge made the survey challenging, the team is happy to report that the reef looks healthy with only limited bleached coral observed and lots of little sea hares dining out on the Rhodophyta algae. The substrate cover remains similar to previous years with rock covered in turf algae being the dominant substrate recorded, closely followed by hard coral.

These surveys are made possible by the support of the Sunshine Coast Council Environment Levy Grant.


Mudjimba Island Clean Up

The winter chill hit with full force this month, with ocean temperatures dropping to 17 degrees, in between bouts of high wind and intense rainfall.

Taking advantage of the glorious conditions that graced us for a few days this week, the Reef Check Australia team headed out to Mudjimba Island, off the Sunshine Coast. The island, with its interesting history is also a hot spot for larger items of debris floating out from the Maroochy River, and for this reason was chosen as a spot to assess the debris loads caused by both the March flooding event, and more recent storms and flooding.

Mudjimba Island sits off the coast of the Sunshine Coast, approximately 4km from the Maroochy river mouth, and less than 1km off the Mudjimba beach shoreline. The island is easily recognised off  the sunshine coast coastline, and has its own interesting history. In Kubi Kubi legend, the island is the head of Coolum, after a battle between Ninderry and Coolum over a woman; Maroochy, meant he lost his head to the sea.

In 1968, a small house was built on the island using many of the stones found there by Mr Sewell.  One small prickly pear cactus he planted at that time has now resulted in the plant overtaking much of the island. The island became a Conservation Park in 2016.

As whales passed between the island and the mainland, the team combed the beach and rocky tidal areas for debris. They collected 31.5kgs in total, from 745m of beach and rock. Large pieces of processed timber had collected on the north-eastern section at the high tide mark, along with chunks of polystyrene, small lightweight plastic items, plastic cups and bottles, and surfing debris (fibreglass, leg rope, towels).

An old crab pot, a jet ski mirror and fishing debris was also found washed up on the northern shore, amongst foam, and glass bottles.

Remember, every little bit counts.  If you see rubbish on the beach; pick it up.  Together, we can and will make an ocean of difference.

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 emerging.

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

Want to join in the next event? Sign up to receive our Enews letter and follow us on socials for regular updates and event locations!


Mud Island Survey

The water was cold; the coldest we have ever dived into at Mud Island, but the water was clear and the sea was calm; a great day to be out on the bay monitoring the health of shallow, inshore reefs in Moreton Bay.
Reef Check Australia has been monitoring South East Queensland reefs since 2007, and Mud Island since 2017, as part of a partnership with Port of Brisbane to monitor the affects of activities in the Bay.

Clean water allowed the team to find an array of critters and corals; nudibranchs, drupella snails (a small, coral eating snail) and a selection of small soft and hard corals nestled amongst several species of algae. A low level of silt was recorded across the site, and several small fish recorded (no RCA target species) hiding amongst the algae. Winter conditions often bring about clear water, however with the current la nina it has been difficult to get out on the bay due to unfavourable conditions. A small pod of dolphins checking us out combined with the ability to see corals from the vessel this week was a lovely surprise!

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 of Bangamba (Mud island), 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.


Mudjimba North Shore and Pincushion Island

With the weather creating a change in plans once again, the Reef Check Australia team swapped diving for beach walking to clean up along popular dog beach Mudjimba North Shore, and Pincushion Island.

Popular with families and dog owners, this offleash area offers protection from the wind towards the river mouth most days. However, debris is often pushed both out of the river due to rain and floods, and up into sand dunes with high winds as those seen most recently. The area can act as a natural catchment of sorts with large amounts of sand also deposited, leading to ever changing sand bars within the river mouth. The small sandstone outcrop at the mouth of the Maroochy River; Pincushion Island, had at one point been an island (hence the name) before becoming attached to the north shore due to a currently permanent sandbar. It has remained attached to the mainland ever since; now over a decade.

A total of 23.2kg and 4 bags of debris was removed from 2410m stretch of beach. Large pieces of polystyrene were located amongst rocks, wrapped around tree roots and buried amongst building supplies, plastic wrappers, bottles and other lightweight fragments carried by the winds and waters over the past few weeks. Marine carpet, lures, broken glass, several shoes and thongs (always just the left side which is interesting), pieces of plastic toys and plastic rope, were also collected. Large pieces of processed timber were also removed.

Unsurprisingly, plenty of incorrectly discarded dog poop bags were also collected.

Remember, every little bit counts. If you see rubbish on the beach; pick it up. Together, we can and will make an ocean of difference.

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 emerging.

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

Want to join in the next event? Sign up to receive our Enews letter and follow us on socials for regular updates and event locations!

#togetherforouroceans #allhandsondeck #everybitcounts #volunteertoprotect


Brain Food

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

Youtube: Kayaking the sickest urban river in Australia

This short film really is a great reminder of how easily discarded waste on land ends up in our oceans. Follow Beau as he kayaks down the Cooks River in NSW; you will be appalled at the amount of rubbish he encounters.

Kayaking the sickest urban river in Australia


Current Coral Affairs

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

COTS on the Coast

Recently friends of Reef Check Australia encountered a Crown of Thorns Starfish on the coast. They are not common but we do see them occasionally and they pose no great risk to our corals. We also see the occasional Triton, a natural predator of the Crown of Thorns. However our friends were lucky enough to see the Triton devouring a crown of thorns at one of our local dive sites and sent us some amazing pictures. 

Photo by Karen Anderson

How Scientists are restoring the Great Barrier Reef

Check out the current work being done to restore our corals.

Get with the Program

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


Caloundra Music Festival Family pass up for grabs!

Reef Check Australia and the Caloundra Music Festival have had a beautiful friendship over the past ten years, celebrating our beautiful Sunshine Coast and sharing information and images of our glorious local reefs with community, musicians, and visitors alike.

This year, Caloundra Music Festival is supporting Reef Check Australia with an amazing prize; a family pass for two adults and two children for the full three days, valued at $895!!!

Enjoy THREE days of Sun, Surf and Soul at the beautiful Kings Beach on the Sunshine Coast as it comes alive to the sounds of a diverse line-up of entertainment featuring the best of the Australian music industry as well as incredible international artists.

'The Caloundra Music Festival aims to bring a broad audience of locals and visitors together in celebration, to enjoy world-class music, food, arts and local culture, and to showcase the natural beauty, creative talents and unique character of the Sunshine Coast'

This not for profit family-friendly community event celebrates the environment, cultural achievements and community pride of the Caloundra area.

To be in it to win it, simply make a donation to Reef Check Australia of $25 or more from now until September 26. Get in quick!  Each donation counts as a separate entry.  September 27th will see one lucky winner drawn.  So pencil the festival dates into your calendar (Friday 30 September to Sunday October 2, 2022) make a donation, and stay tuned!

Good luck!

Sunday 11 September | Beach Clean Up Horseshoe Bay Magnetic Island

Tuesday 13 September | Coast to Corals

This month Dr Nataly Gutierrez Isaza will be talking about the reproductive biology of corals. Head on over to our website to register so that you get the zoom link.

September/October | Reef Surveyor Online Training

Do you want to join Reef Check Australia as a survey diver and help survey our reefs? We have an online course coming up soon, followed by in-water practical components. Check out our website for the pre-requisites.

Sunday 2 October | Beach Clean up Forrest Beach


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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