What's your
Reef IQ?
Play our new game

Reef Check's E-News

Reef Check Membership

Our Champions

Empowering people to save our reefs and oceans

Reef Check Australia collects locally relevant reef health information with global applications

We are proud to be contributing to the Reef Check global network, collecting valuable and comparable reef health information around the world. Our protocols are based on the standardised and peer-reviewed Reef Check monitoring methods, with additional regional indicators tailored to the Australia marine region.

Find out more about what and how we monitor in our Methods manual.

Methods Manual >



A set of biological indicators was chosen for Reef Check, to serve individually as indicators of specific types of human impacts, and collectively as a proxy for ecosystem health. Reef Check Collects reef health information through the following surveys: 


Four 20m survey sections are completed along a 100m line marked out with tape and a point sample survey of the ground below (classified as either hard coral, soft coral, algae, rock, sponge, and others) is taken every 50cm.

Invertebrate & Impact

On the same survey sections, surveyors complete U-shaped search patterns 2.5m each side of the transect line and record the number and size of indicator invertebrates (including crown-of-thorns starfish, sea cucumbers, anemones and sea urchin species) discovered. Any reef health impacts (i.e. disease, drupella scars, anchor damage or bleaching) are recorded and photographs are taken for our database.


Along the same survey sections, a fish count through a 5m square tunnel is used to record the abundance and size of key indicator species, such as coral trout, butterflyfish, snapper and sweetlips.

Photo Transect

Finally, a visual record is captured at regular points along each survey section to provide a permanent record of the coral and substrate on the site. This information was previously collected by videography and stored in our data library. This record may be important for future, more detailed (species identification) analyses of the data at sites where interesting changes have been recorded by our volunteer researchers. See an example of a section of video survey below.


Peer-reviewed Publications using Reef Check methods

Roelfsema CM, Phinn SR, Joyce KE (2006) Evaluating benthic survey techniques for validating maps of coral reefs derived from remotely sensed images. Proceedings of the 10th International Coral Reef Symposium 1778-1780.

Joyce KE, Phinn SR, Roelfsema C, Neil DT, Dennison WC (2004) Combining Landsat ETM and Reef Check for mapping coral reefs: An example from the southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Coral Reefs 23: 21-25  

Please see the Reef Check International website for additional studies using Reef Check data applications.