Heron Island

Heron Island is a coral cay located on the southern section of the Great Barrier Reef, approximately 80km off the coast of Gladstone, Queensland. The island hosts the Heron Island Resort and the University of Queensland’s Research Station (HIRS).

The fringing reefs are well-utilised for snorkel and diving tourism as well as reef research. These activities may be having some unintended impacts. Factors such as extensive development in the nearby Gladstone region and, similar to other coral reefs, global climate change, also pose threats to this marine ecosystem. While there is extensive research undertaken at Heron Island, there are relatively few long-term monitoring projects. 

Regional Updates

Heron Island Reef (Health) Check 2018!

April 09, 2019
  We're proud to share the monitoring results from our 2018 Heron Island surveys in the newly released Reef Check Australia summary report.  Reef Check Australia has been monitoring sites on Heron Island since 2011 and we continue to work with The University of Queensland’s Remote Sensing Research Centre on this project.     Here's a few titbits from the report to whet your coral appetite! -  The total average hard coral cover recorder across all sites was 42% Eight out of 15 sites had coral cover greater than 50% Most sites had low levels of soft coral (eight out of 15 sites) Coral bleaching was recorded on all sites, but in relatively low levels.   Thanks to The University of Queensland’s Remote Sensing Research Centre, Heron Island Research Station and Heron Island Resort for their in-kind support and advice. And of course a massive thanks to the 2018 Heron Reef Research Team superstars - Chris Roelfsema, Douglas Stetner, Mitch Lyons, Emma Kennedy, Daniel Harris, Kat Markey, Josh Passenger, Eva Kovacs, Rodney Borrego, Jodi Salmond (who also supplied these awesome images) and Stuart Phinn.      
Read more

Reef Check update with Fitzroy Report Card

June 10, 2018
Since 2011, RCA has been monitoring multiple sites on Heron Island as part of a larger collaborative reef research and mapping initiative led by The University of Queensland’s Remote Sensing Research Centre. Heron Island falls within the Fitzroy Marine Zone. The Fitzroy Partnership is a collective of government, agriculture, resources, industry, research and community interests that partner to deliver annual reports on water quality and ecosystem health in the region. Live coral cover is one of five coral indicators utilised to report on marine condition for the Reef Plan Marine Monitoring Program. We work with the Fitzroy Partnership to produce an additional summary report on average percent cover of hard and soft coral for motioning sites on Heron Island scored using Reef Plan Reporting scales for nearshore reefs.  2017 results have just been released as additional information with the annual report card. If you want to see some more info on this site, you can check out the Reef Check summary report. 
Read more

Its all happening on Heron Island

November 10, 2017
For the seventh consecutive year, an RCA team joined the University of Queensland Remote Sensing Research Centre and James Cook University She Flies Drone teams on Heron Island for a week-long reef health monitoring expedition. The team surveyed 16 sites around the Island, contributing long-term reef condition data to support a 16 year effort by UQ RSRC to track reef habitat around this beautiful island. Our busy team reaped the rewards with some amazing scenes of healthy coral, a myriad of sharks and rays and so many turtles! Stay tuned for the Heron Island Report due out shortly! Huge thanks to the University of Queensland Remote Sensing for leading the expedition, and Heron Island Research Centre and Heron Island Resort for their in-kind support of this project.
Read more