Moreton Bay

On Brisbane’s doorstep are a diversity of spectacular and unique reefs, which is a truly unusual scenario given proximity to large metropolitan area. In a short boat trip from the coastline of bustling Brisbane’s hub of 2 million people, you can find subtropical reefs that host a diversity of tropical and cold water marine species.

While these reefs may not be as extensive, diverse or well-known as the Great Barrier Reef, they are pretty special. The offshore site Flinders Reef, for instance, is home to 125 species of coral. Research shows that Moreton Bay’s inshore reefs have about half of the coral diversity of offshore reefs, as the corals that live here are more robust to tolerate water quality influences from the land.

Moreton Bay’s marine environments host the largest known aggregation of leopard sharks in the world, as well as seasonal aggregations of both manta rays and grey nurse sharks. There are even two coral species that feature Moreton Bay in their name!

The region’s waterways are under growing pressure from a rapidly increasing human presence, with the SEQ population expected to reach 4 million by 2026. Stressors such as habitat loss, nutrient runoff, boating, anchoring, overfishing, marine debris and climate change will have increasing consequences for reefs in the SEQ region. As such, long-term monitoring of these habitats is critical.

Regional Updates

SEQ Survey Season Launch!

September 04, 2018
The South East Queensland survey season has now officially begun, with an awesome team of Reef Check Australia volunteers recently spending the weekend on gorgeous (and quite wet!) Stradbroke Island refreshing their reef surveyor ID skills in addition to learning new skills with Fish identification.  Despite the cold and sometimes rainy weekend, teams also completed four reef health surveys at Flat and Shag rock off Stradbroke Island.    Teams were treated to many a turtle, plenty of whales breaching, and wobbegongs a plenty!   As ever we need to say a huge thank you to our amazing volunteers for their time and dedication over the weekend- reef monitoring simply cannot be done without them, and we are so lucky to have volunteers willing to donate their whole weekend to monitoring the reef.  Thanks also go to Holzheimer (Point Lookout SCUBA Dive Charters) for getting the team to our sites, and to the Queensland Government's Community Sustainability Action Grants for supporting these vital projects. What a way to kick off the season!
Read more

Reef Ambassadors at Quandamooka Festival

August 01, 2018
  Our Brisbane Reef Ambassadors were thrilled to join the Quandamooka Festival's annual Welcome the Whales event to celebrate the arrival of 'yalingbila' (humpback whales) on their northward migration.   Visitors to the festival had the chance to chat with some of the Ambassador team and choose a pledge for the ocean. Thanks to all those local heroes who made their commitment to help protect our reefs and oceans! The Ambassadors also led a beach clean up on the day to help look after this very special place.     Our Moreton Bay Reef Ambassadors program is proudly supported by the Port of Brisbane.    
Read more

Overboard and Underwater!

July 24, 2018
On 5th June, some  of our awesome Brisbane Reef Ambassadors hopped on board the MV Inspiration, to learn more about the effects of micro-plastics on the ocean, and plankton life-cycles for World Environment Day.   The Moreton Bay Environmental Education Centre provides authentic education programmes from preparatory level to Year 12, allowing students, teachers and the community to develop relationships with the local area through immersion in natural, heritage and cultural education. They educate students about the environment from plankton in the oceans to koalas in the trees and everything in-between. They are currently running a project named Overboard and Underwater, which educates students about the dangers and ramifications of micro-plastics by examining the plankton life-cycle and explaining how even the smallest creatures in the ocean are affected by humans.   Robin Pickett and Jennah Williams were invited along for the day to take part and enjoy this fantastic learning opportunity. The voyage commenced with a safety briefing, an introduction to the program and the schedule for the day, before the team set off across Moreton Bay in the direction of St Helena Island.  En-route, Robin, Jennah and their travelling companions were told that over 8 billion tons of plastic waste ends up in the ocean every year, causing the deaths of tens of thousands of marine animals who ingest, become entangled in or are poisoned by this plastic.  Next on the agenda was a video on plankton, told from the viewpoint of a red snapper and highlighting huge diversity of micro-organisms there are! In fact in a single teaspoon you can have 1 million living creatures comprising of phyto- and zoo plankton.     Following the video it was time to get hands on. The plankton trawl net was lowered and drifted behind us for 5 minutes before being hauled in with help from eager participants, including Jennah!   Contents were concentrated in a collection tube and poured into a glass jar, then pipettes were used to make dot samples for viewing under the microscope. Images were projected onto a screen and ID charts were provided to identify these amazing critters!   While enjoying some locally sourced nibbles, the Ambassadors chatted to some of the teachers on board about marine education in schools. Robin and Jennah were pleased to hear that many teachers were fully engaged in pledging to reduce their plastic waste! A plastic trivia game on the way home (with eco-friendly prizes including re-usable straws, cotton and beeswax bags and bamboo toothbrushes on offer) offered some final inspiration for teachers to go over what they had learnt and would take back to teach their students. Robin and Jennah reported back that "the programme proved to be a fantastic and very informative day. The work that the Moreton Bay Environmental Centre is doing is vital to the protection and understanding of our oceans for the future generations. The time to take action on plastic waste is now!" Huge thanks go to the Moreton Bay Environmental Education Centre for letting our Ambassadors come along and for all the great work they do. Check out some more of the day's action below!     
Read more

Winter surveys at Inshore Moreton Bay Sites

July 04, 2018
       Reef Check Australia has been monitoring inshore fringing reef sites in Moreton Bay / Quandamooka since 2009. We've recently added new monitoring sites for the fringing reefs at Green, St Helena and Mud Island thanks to funding from Port of Brisbane. These sites, so close to the city of Brisbane and the surrounding catchment area, are exposed to water quality issues from sediment and runoff, and high-levels of recreational access. Subtropical marine habitats can also be affected by climate change, with resident species responding to changes in water temperature. Conditions in Moreton Bay can be challenging for diving, but luckily our team had glorious winter weather. The water was beautiful and clear, with barely a puff of wind all weekend. It was an inspiring reminder of the sometimes-forgotten beauty and health of the underwater environment right on Brisbane's doorstep. Seeing notable coral communities just minutes from a bustling metropolitan city is incredibly uplifting and highlights the resilience of these amazing organisms. The range of pressures they face make it all the more important to continue to survey and monitor the health of these sites.  Congratulations to our survey team for collecting the data, and thanks to Port of Brisbane and the Moreton Bay Research Station for making this trip possible. Happy to announce that we'll be conducting bi-annual surveys at these sites again this season, so stay tuned for more updates!      
Read more