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Around the Reef - Reef Check Australia - June 2024

June 05, 2024
Dear Friend Winter is officially here and the chill in the air is noticeable. Hopefully this means cooler water temperatures which will give our stressed corals some reprieve, not so great for those of us conducting in-water activities as we layer up the neoprene. Winter often brings calmer conditions and clearer waters so lets keep our fingers crossed. This months email includes: Action of the Month: Dive Deep: Discover your Ocean Footprint News from the Field Books and Podcasts Current Coral Affairs Get With the Program Dive Deep: Discover Your Ocean Footprint! June is the perfect time to dive deep into our personal connection to the ocean! With World Environment Day and World Oceans Day just around the corner, Reef Check Australia's "Dive Deep: Discover Your Ocean Footprint" Action of the Month is tailor-made for mindful exploration and impactful action. Deep Dives for Deeper Understanding: By diving deeper with specific calculators and guides that explore your impact on different areas, like plastic use, seafood choices, and carbon footprint, you can pinpoint where to make the most significant ocean-friendly changes. Here are a couple we have found so far. Quizzes: Planet Ark How Big is Your Footprint? Quiz: This Australian-based quiz calculates your ecological footprint and provides personalized tips for reducing your impact. It also emphasizes local environmental issues and solutions. https://wwf.org.au/get-involved/ecological-footprint-calculator/ ABC Splash! Sustainability Quiz: This interactive quiz from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is specifically designed for children and teenagers. It uses fun questions and engaging visuals to educate them about their environmental impact and inspire action. https://www.abc.net.au/everyday/could-you-be-more-green-at-home-sustainability-quiz/12307182 Queensland Government Eco Quiz: This regional quiz focuses on environmental issues relevant to Queensland and provides tips for living sustainably in the state. You can also choose other state-specific quizzes tailored to your target audience. https://environment.des.qld.gov.au/ Calculators: Planet Ark's Home Energy Audit: This comprehensive tool helps users assess their home's energy consumption and identify areas for improvement. It provides personalized recommendations for saving energy and reducing your carbon footprint, which ultimately impacts the ocean. https://planetark.org/programs/planet-ark-power WaterCare Calculator: This calculator estimates your household's water usage and offers tips for conserving water, another crucial aspect of minimizing your overall environmental impact, including on the ocean. https://www.ecobud.com.au/support/hydration-calculator Carbon Neutral by 2050 Emissions Calculator: This Australian government tool allows you to estimate your personal carbon footprint and explore different scenarios for reducing it in line with the country's climate goals. This can help individuals understand their contribution to climate change and its influence on ocean health. https://2050calculator.wixsite.com/2050calculator/calculators Beyond Quizzes and calculators: Taking Action: Share Your Footprint: Once you've discovered your ocean footprint, share it with friends and family on social media! Use the hashtag #DiveDeepForTheOcean to spark conversations and inspire collective action. Advocate for Change: Use your newfound knowledge to advocate for ocean-friendly policies and support organizations like Reef Check Australia working tirelessly to protect our seas. Become an Ocean Champion: Commit to one or two actionable changes, be it reducing single-use plastics, choosing sustainable seafood, or supporting coral restoration projects. Every step counts towards a healthier ocean future. Let's make June a month of exploration, education, and empowered action for our beloved oceans. Dive deep, discover your impact, and join the wave of changemakers dedicated to protecting our shared blue planet! Remember, Reef Check Australia is here to support you on your journey. Visit our website for more resources, educational materials, and opportunities to get involved in ocean conservation efforts. Together, we can make a world of difference for the ocean, one conscious choice at a time. News from the field Stories and updates from our teams out & about.  Reef Check Australia Makes a Splash at the Australian Coral Reef Symposium! Our team was thrilled to be a part of the recent Australian Coral Reef Symposium (ACRS) held in Perth! We presented two exciting talks based on upcoming research papers utilising valuable data collected by Reef Check Australia volunteers. One presentation focused on coral bleaching trends in Southeast Queensland (SEQ). ☀️ The other explored the power of citizen science over 17 years, analysing reef health data from SEQ. 🪸 The response was fantastic! We connected with attendees from across Australia, all passionate about protecting our coral reefs. It was also a great opportunity to see so many old friends still working in the industry, as well as so many new faces. The ACRS covered a wide range of crucial topics, including threats like crown-of-thorns starfish, innovative technologies, DNA analysis, bleaching impacts, reef resilience, and of course, the power of citizen science. It was inspiring to see such broad representation and enthusiasm for coral reef conservation. Together, we can make a difference! We are always looking for new ways to involve more people, so if you want to know how you can get involved, head on over to www.reefcheckaustralia.org and or follow us on all the socials. Stay tuned for upcoming publications based on the research presented at ACRS! South East Queensland Gold Coast Seaway, Wavebreak Island  - Clean Up Dive Known locally as Wavebreak Island just across from the Gold Coast Seaway, this interesting site is home to a wide array of fish species, as well as being a hotspot for marine debris. Established as a reef health survey location in 2019 by Reef Check Australia in collaboration with Gold Coast City Council, this spot boasts a rocky scree starting at 5m and plunging down to 12m, with a strong current. On the northern side of the wall, the rocky substrate is covered with fishing line. Despite cleaning the area as a part of annual reef surveys in the area, based on the amount of debris that continues to be recorded here, a dedicated clean up dive was organised to actively target marine debris here, as a part of wider clean up Australia day efforts. A total of 3.7kg of debris consisting of fishing line, lures, rope, bits of nets and plastic was removed from this location during the clean up dive. A camp chair, dive mask and glass bottles (adding an addition 3kg to the debris removed) were also removed. A massive shoutout to our amazing team and a heartfelt thank you to Skipper Harry of Gold Coast Dive Adventures for getting us to site, for looking out for us on the surface and for taking care of the boat 🙌🚤 Reef Check Acknowledge the people of the Yugambeh language region of the Gold 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 City of Gold Coasts Catchment and Citizen Science Grants Program. Ocean Film Festival - Noosa A team of ambassadors and surveyors from Reef Check Australia (RCA) attended this years ‘Ocean Film Festival World Tour’ held at The J Noosa on Thursday 14th March 2024. The sold-out event featured a unique selection of films of varying lengths and styles covering topics such as ocean adventure and exploration, the oceanic environment, marine creatures, ocean related sports, coastal cultures and ocean lovers. The films were inspiring, compelling, sometimes nail biting (see Ice Maiden – Australian solo-sailor Lisa Blair’s circumnavigation of Antarctica) and championed the Ocean Film Festival World Tour’s vision ‘to inspire you to explore, respect, enjoy, and protect our oceans’. Several research and conservation partners including RCA convened information stalls at the festival. Our ambassadors and surveyors responded to a large amount of interest from attendees wanting to learn more about what we do and how to get involved and keep in touch. We also had a chance to network with other stall holders and share information. Thanks to Sarah and her team of organisers from Ocean Film Festival World Tour for putting on such a valuable event and for inviting RCA to be a part of it. Reef Check Acknowledge the Kabi Kabi people of the Noosa region, 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.         Green Island, Moreton Bay - Reef Health Survey Moreton Bay is a region adjacent to the city of Brisbane and hosts its port, as well as various other coastal suburbs that encroach onto the bay. Various islands sit within the bay, and are called home to sub-tropical coral reefs, fish, marine megafauna such as dugongs, turtles, and sharks and lots of invertebrates. Reef Check Australia survey divers head to locations within the bay in both summer and winter to monitor the seasonal changes that occur over long periods of time. In late February a team of four surveyors went out into the bay to survey the health of coral reefs and how it’s been faring recently. Reef Check Australia has been monitoring Southeast Queensland reefs since 2007, and Green Island since 2017, as part of a partnership with Port of Brisbane to monitor the effects of activities in the Bay. On this day, we surveyed a site off Green Island on the western side dubbed “Green Island West”. A high level of silt and macroalgae (sargassum) meant the site was a challenging dive, with the water column filled with turbidity. Nevertheless, the surveyors endured and completed the bi-annual survey, finding some hard corals blooming, a small stingray, butterfly fish and snapper! Unfortunately, some human impacts were recorded on the site (a discarded fishing net and additional land based trash). Coral bleaching being recorded in all four transects, in high occurrence. The importance of surveying sites like Green Island cannot be underestimated, for the anthropogenic impacts on marine ecosystems are generally felt by habitats adjacent to urbanised areas such as this one. Collecting this information allows policymakers to make informed evidence-based decisions when attempting conservation governance. Thank you 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 Danggar (Green 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. Great Barrier Reef Rowes Bay Sustainability House Open Day Written by Pearl Wood. 🌿What an incredible day at the Rowes Bay Sustainability Centre Open Day!🌿 Our team was lucky enough to score a spot at the Rowes Bay Sustainability Centre celebrating their open day. Our team of passionate volunteers set up our vibrant market stall for their open day, adorned with educational materials, interactive displays, and a contagious enthusiasm for sustainability. As the event kicked off, we eagerly engaged with visitors of all ages, sparking thought-provoking conversations and igniting a shared passion for environmental stewardship. Throughout the day, we had the pleasure of connecting with a diverse array of individuals, from young eco-warriors to seasoned environmental advocates. It was heartwarming to witness the genuine curiosity and enthusiasm in their eyes as we conversed. But perhaps the most memorable moment came when we had the honour of meeting with the inspiring  Townsville City Council staff representing the towns sustainable achievements. Their unwavering dedication to environmental conservation and support left us in awe, reaffirming our commitment to protecting our precious reefs and oceans. As the day unfolded, our colourful display became a hub of activity, attracting curious minds and sparking meaningful discussions about the importance of reef health. The children, in particular, were captivated by the colourful corals (fake) and fascinating shells we had on display, eagerly asking questions and soaking up knowledge like sponges. But it wasn't just about spreading awareness; it was also about inspiring action. We encouraged visitors to think critically about their daily habits and how they could make a tangible difference in preserving our planet and the different volunteer opportunities we offer. We thank the Rowes Bay Sustainability Centre for hosting such a remarkable event and the individuals who attended that were eager to live a more sustainable life. This project is made possible through support from Townsville City Council through their Creek to Coral program. We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on where these activities take place, the Wulgurukaba of Gurambilbarra and Yunbenun, Bindal, Gugu Badhun and Nywaigi People of the Townsville region. We pay our respects to their elders, past, present and emerging and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in our community today. Alma Bay Magnetic Island – Reef Health Surveys  The weather has been proving a challenge for our team this season, but a small group headed over to beautiful Magnetic Island in the hope that conditions would be suitable to survey the reefs that lie within Alma Bay. These reefs are accessible from shore, with the corals occurring on the rock walls on either side of the bay, making this a popular snorkelling and diving spot. The site also hosts the Arcadian Surf Club making it a great area for families. Whilst the visibility was limited it was sufficient to conduct the survey safely. The amount of hard coral detected on transect for both sites has remained consistent with our previous surveys, with less rubble detected. Coral bleaching was detected on both sites, with less than 1% of the population impacted on Site 1 and 2% on Site 2.  Unknown coral damage was the most recorded impact at 5 counts and 11 counts respectively. Target invertebrates were not observed on transect. A big thanks to our amazing team; Rachelle Brown, Jenni Calcraft, Terry Farr, Julie Schubert and our newest member Taylor Hosler, without whom these surveys would not be possible. This project is made possible through support from Townsville City Council through their Creek to Coral program, and the Integrated Coral Reef Citizen Science 2.0 Program funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on where these activities take place, the Manbarra and Bwgcolman people of Palm Island, and the Wulgurukaba and Bindal People of the Townsville and Magnetic Island region. We pay our respects to their elders, past, present and emerging and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in our community today.   Books and podcasts Have you read or listened to something lately that you would like to share? Let us know and we can feature it here Life on the Reef by Andrey Ryanskiy This awesome book which is available as a pdf, presents the mostly sessile inhabitants of coral reefs. "The reef animals and marine plants considered in the book are grouped into 10 phyla: Corals & allies (Cnidaria), Sea Squirts (Tunicata), Sponges (Porifera), Moss Animals (Bryozoa), Comb Jellies (Ctenophora), Brachiopods, Entoprocts, Foraminiferans, Sea Weeds and Cyanobacteria". A great addition to your marine ID library. . Current Coral Affairs Check out some of the latest news and research about our ocean Naked Sea Butterflies! Beautiful unusual marine creatures. Read now in: Dive Magazine How deep is the deepest blue hole? Deeper than you think! Read now in: Dive Magazine Get with the Program Here's what we've got coming up in the next few weeks, keep checking the website for more updates.  Fri 31 May - Sun 2 Jun | Pranafest. Tickets are also available just to attend on the weekend. Head to https://events.humanitix.com/pranafest-2024/tickets to get your tickets. Sun 2 June | Townsville Ecofiesta. For more info https://whatson.townsville.qld.gov.au/events/eco-fiesta-2024 Sun 2 June | Logan Eco Action Festival. For more info head to: https://www.logan.qld.gov.au/environment/leaf Sat 8 June | Marine Bioblitz Bowen - stay tuned for more details Sat 13 July | Whale Festival Gold Coast - check out Humpbacks and Highrises on facebook for more details. 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   and don't forget our annual reports by region are available on our website! 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.    Make a Donation   Copyright © 2024 Reef Check Australia, All rights reserved.You have received this newsletter because you have given Reef Check Australia your email address. If you would prefer not to receive any further emails, please click the unsubscribe link in your email.Our mailing address is: Reef Check Australia PO Box 782, Mooloolaba, QLD, 4557Australia
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Around the Reef - Reef Check Australia - May 2024

May 08, 2024
Dear Friend The last month has been challenging to put it mildly. Strong winds and rough conditions have seen activities, planned, rescheduled and rescheduled again. We thank our volunteers and trainee surveyors for their patience with our constant reorganising, but safety must come first for all of our activities. Fingers crossed the conditions improve this month and stay that way. This months email includes: Action of the Month: Shine Together, Lets celebrate our volunteers month! News from the Field Books and Podcasts Current Coral Affairs Get With the Program Shine Together, Lets celebrate our volunteers month! This May, Reef Check Australia is celebrating the vibrant heartbeat of our organization – our incredible volunteers! National Volunteer Week (May 20-26) shines a spotlight on their passion, dedication, and the priceless impact they make on our ocean. But this month, we're not just celebrating them, we're celebrating everyone who contributes to our ocean's well-being, including YOU! Shine Together: This motto reflects the interconnectedness of our ocean community. Volunteers shine when supported by local partners, and you shine when you participate in our Volunteer Incentive Program, advocate for ocean conservation, or simply appreciate the beauty and importance of our shared seas. Here's how you can Shine Together this May: Volunteer Spotlight: Every week, we'll highlight a dedicated volunteer, sharing their story and the incredible work they do for the ocean. Get inspired by their passion and consider joining our amazing team! Volunteer Incentive Program: Show your appreciation for our volunteers by participating in our exciting program. Nominate a Reef Check Australia volunteer for volunteer of the month, cheer them on (in the field or from home!) and support local businesses that support our volunteers, like PRANAFEST, and spread the word! Know a business who would like to support our volunteers? Get in Touch! Local Partner Shoutout: Let's amplify the voices of organizations who champion volunteer well-being and support ocean conservation efforts. Check out some of our supporters below. Remember, every action, every voice, is a ripple that contributes to a wave of positive change for our ocean. This May, let's Shine Together, celebrating the strength of our community, recognizing each other's worth, and ensuring a brighter future for our beloved seas. Join us, volunteer, participate, and most importantly, shine! Together, we can make a difference!   News from the field Stories and updates from our teams out & about.  South East Queensland Gold Coast Seaway, South-west wall  - Reef Health Survey This underwater adventure is brought to you by team RCA at the Southwest Wall of the Gold Coast Seaway. Established in 2007 and just South from the popular Pipeline, this site has provided valuable insights into the dynamic marine environment of the Gold Coast. Highlights of this dive for our team during their reef health survey included an abundance of purple nudibranchs, eel-tailed catfish, some tropical rock lobster and some large sweetlips! Plus, catching up with the Reef Check Australia team members spanning across SEQ and the GBR highlights the dedication of our volunteers. An increase in silt was recorded across the entire transect, a decrease in nutrient indicator algae, and increase in the number of tunicates. One drupella snail was spotted, three lobsters, and several pieces of debris, leading to the team conducting a clean up to remove over pieces of trash from underwater, and several handfuls of trash from the beach and park area as they got ready. A great opportunity to remember to pick up debris whenever safe to do so; even if it isn’t yours, and dispose of it correctly. A massive shoutout to our amazing team and a heartfelt thank you to the team at Aqua Adventures for supplying tanks. It requires all hands on deck to make events possible, so thankyou to everyone who helped plan and survey. Reef Check Acknowledge the people of the Yugambeh language region of the Gold 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 City of Gold Coasts Catchment and Citizen Science Grants Program. Noosa, The Caves - Reef Health Survey After months of watching the weather, planning and replanning due to high seas, high winds and average conditions, the Reef Check Australia team finally managed to get up to Noosa to complete their final reef health monitoring for the region. The beautiful day provided a small refuge of sun between the rain that has kept the entire south east QLD coast green and humid over the past few months, so we were excited to check out how the reefs in Noosa had faired. The surface ocean temperature was 30 degrees Celsius when we jumped in this month; extremely warm for this time of year and this region. Around the world, the Earth’s oceans are having their warmest start to a year on record as El Niño and climate change combine to produce unrivalled January-February sea surface temperatures. Last year was the warmest year on record for Earth’s global oceans, with sea surface temperatures running at record high levels from mid-March until the end of the year. This unprecedented global ocean heat was caused in part by the warming effects of climate change and El Niño. What does this mean for local reefs? Our Noosa Caves site was set up in 2019 to gain a better understanding of reef health within the Noosa region as a part of our long-term monitoring plan in the region. This site sits at 12-13m deep, and consists of a very undulating, uneven reef structure, allowing plenty of habitat for animals and corals etc alike. Despite lowered visibility and very green conditions, the site itself was teaming with hard and soft coral, sponges and fish. Two lobsters and 15 Drupella snails were recorded, Several large Drupella scars were seen; with the majority affecting foliose hard corals. Eight unknown scars were recorded, with each replicant having several bleached corals, with individuals bleached from 20-100%. The population level bleaching was much lower (1-3%). Butterflyfish and one wobbegong were the only target fish recorded on the transect. Thank you to Blue Tortuga Adventures for getting us to site. These vital reef health surveys are not possible without our amazing volunteers, so thankyou for all that you do! 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 is supported by Noosa Council. Mud Island, Moreton Bay - Reef Health Survey Moreton Bay is a water body situated right next to Brisbane, one of Australia’s largest cities hosting a population of over 2 million people. Situated in the bay are various coral reefs, monitoring them over long periods of time allows us to understand how urbanisation affects marine ecosystems that are adjacent to large urban regions to measure just how humans impact the world underwater. On a sun-filled summers day, various Reef Check Australia team leaders and survey divers headed out into the bay to perform coral reef surveys. Reef Check Australia has been monitoring Southeast Queensland reefs since 2007, and Mud Island since 2017, as part of a partnership with Port of Brisbane to monitor the effects of activities in the Bay. Today, we surveyed site situated along Mud Island called Coral Galore. Although the weather was wonderful above water, large amounts of turbidity underwater make working conditions less than ideal. A large amount of silt and sargassum seaweed covered the site, however there was no shortage of life with the coral reefs still blossoming with invertebrates and other animals hiding in the substrates. Several Drupella snails and coral bleaching were recorded at the site, which are threats towards our marine ecosystems. During our dive underwater, although the region has seen lots of rain recently the team recorded a water temperature of 29⁰C, which is exceptionally high; the highest recorded on any Reef Check Australia survey in Southeast Qld to date. Unfortunately, this is a sign of a marine heatwave, and bays such as Moreton are extremely susceptible to these events due to small amounts of oceanographic currents pushing water around the region and shallow waters allowing the sun to heat bodies of water up rapidly. Marine heatwaves can bring about devastating effects for the ecosystems they affect, so monitoring sites like Mud Island over long periods of time helps us understand how these potentially catastrophic events affect biodiversity. We look forward to heading out again in a few months to continue monitoring any changes that might occur as a part of this long term monitoring program. Thank you 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. Envirotech Talk - Discussion on coral restoration and citizen science Our General Manager, Jodi Salmond, joined students from Envirotech on the Gold Coast this month to share her passion as a marine scientist working in the region. She shared updates on Reef Check Australia, reef health within the Gold Coast, and the simple ways that everyone can get involved in supporting reef health; above and below the surface. Reef Check Australia works hard to communicate what we do as citizen scientists to the wider community, so we thought it was the perfect opportunity to chat with the Envirotech students as they learn about reef monitoring techniques, reef restoration, and  about how best to communicate, engage and empower their peers to better understand, appreciate and protect our local marine resources. We run semi regular Reef Ambassador training courses, which is designed to train community outreach volunteers to actively inspire, motivate and support their communities through the potential power of the right blend of science, optimism and concrete action that can empower passionate community members to support reef resilience in their local area. Through this strategic, science-based and collaborative outreach network, we seek to build a network of passionate and informed community members, helping to translate our citizen science findings into meaningful action. Sound like something you might be interested in?. Make sure to head on over to https://www.reefcheckaustralia.org/reef_ambassadors to find out more, and to sign up for the next course! Reef Check Acknowledge the Yugambeh people of the Gold 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. Reef Check Australia activities in this region have received funding support from The City of Gold Coast's Catchment and Citizen Science Grants Program.   Great Barrier Reef Grays Bay Bowen - Snorkel Clean Up This site was identified as a hot spot for fishing debris during our Reef Health Surveys. The persistent strong winds have kept visibility low, but a small team of enthusiastic volunteers jumped in 2 hours before low tide which gave enough water depth and visibility to clean up some of the debris on snorkel. We quickly set to work carefully removing the fishing line and associated hooks and sinkers, taking care not to damage the coral. There was a significant amount of line that had been in place for a very long time and coral had grown over it, so these pieces were left in place. We collected over 50m of monofilament line, over 50m of braid line, 5 plastic lures, 3 metal lures, hooks, sinkers, aluminium cans and a complete mask and snorkel (beyond saving unfortunately). This site will continue to be monitored and additional clean-ups on scuba may be necessary to remove further debris not accessible on snorkel. This clean up was conducted on the traditional lands and sea country of the Ngaro, Gia and Juru People of the Whitsundays. We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians and their Elders past, present and emerging. This project is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government's Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. Books and podcasts Have you read or listened to something lately that you would like to share? Let us know and we can feature it here Voice of the Sea by John Williamson A book for the young ocean conservationists. Apparently there is also a song of the same name also written by John Williamson so check it out. Current Coral Affairs Check out some of the latest news and research about our ocean Looks like an alien! New species of sea slug discovered in UK waters Read now in: BBC News Get with the Program Here's what we've got coming up in the next few weeks, keep checking the website for more updates.  Sat 11 May | Rowes Bay (Townsville) Sustainability Centre Open Day, 9am to 1pm More Info. Come say Hi to our team. Tue 14 May | Coast to Coral - Saving Sawfish with Nikki Biskis. Register on our website to get your login. Sun 2 June | Townsville Ecofiesta. For more info https://whatson.townsville.qld.gov.au/events/eco-fiesta-2024 Sun 2 June | Logan Eco Action Festival. For more info head to: https://www.logan.qld.gov.au/environment/leaf Sat 8 June | Marine Bioblitz Whitsundays - stay tuned for more details 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.    Make a Donation   Copyright © 2023 Reef Check Australia, All rights reserved.You have received this newsletter because you have given Reef Check Australia your email address. If you would prefer not to receive any further emails, please click the unsubscribe link in your email.Our mailing address is: Reef Check Australia PO Box 782, Mooloolaba, QLD, 4557Australia
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Around the Reef - Reef Check Australia - April 2024

April 02, 2024
Dear Friend The year is flying by and it is school holidays again with many families out and about camping, visiting our beaches and waterways or exploring new areas. We urge everyone to remember that they visit our amazing natural environment due to the aesthetic appeal of these areas, so please cause no harm to the environment, pick up rubbish (even if it is not yours) and dispose of all rubbish in the appropriate facilities. As the saying goes: "Leave only footprints, take only photos (and rubbish)"! This months email includes: Action of the Month: Connected Conservation: Celebrate Earth Day and Contribute to Ocean Knowledge! News from the Field Current Coral Affairs Get With the Program Connected Conservation: Celebrate Earth Day and Contribute to Ocean Knowledge! Photo by Amy Shamblen on Unsplash April whispers promise of renewal, and this year, Reef Check Australia invites you to celebrate Earth Day (April 22nd) with an adventurous twist – "Connected Conservation: Dive into Ocean Knowledge!" It's time to break down the walls between land and sea, understanding how our actions on earth ripple through the ocean's heart. Be a Land to Sea Steward: Earth Day isn't just about planting trees! Join a beach cleanup and witness firsthand how land-based pollution reaches our precious reefs. Organize a community garden near the coast, nurturing both terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Choose sustainable seafood that supports healthy fish populations and protects ocean biodiversity. Every action, from your backyard to the beach, becomes a ripple of positive change. Become a Citizen Science Champion: This Earth Day, become a hero for the ocean by joining Reef Check Australia's citizen science programs. Learn simple yet impactful ways to monitor coral reef health, track marine debris, or identify fish species. Your data becomes vital ocean knowledge, informing conservation efforts and shaping a brighter future for our seas. Gather friends and family for a citizen science outing, transforming curiosity into collective action. Share the Ocean's Wisdom: Spread the love for the ocean and the power of connected conservation. Share your citizen science stories on social media using #ConnectedConservation and @reefcheckaustralia We want to know what you have been up to! Attend educational workshops about our interconnected ecosystems, sparking awe and understanding in your community. Read books, watch movies and share what you have learnt with those around you. Let's turn Earth Day into a month-long wave of knowledge, action, and celebration for the ocean that binds us all. This April, let's go beyond Earth Day's traditional boundaries and embrace the ocean as an integral part of our planet's health. By understanding the connections, taking action, and sharing knowledge, we can turn the tide towards a thriving ocean and a sustainable future for all. Join Reef Check Australia, become a Connected Conservation champion, and dive into the ocean of possibilities!   News from the field Stories and updates from our teams out & about.  South East Queensland Hancocks Shoal - Reef Health Survey After months of watching the weather, planning and replanning due to high seas, high winds and average conditions, the Reef Check Australia team finally managed to find a small pocket of reprieve and took the opportunity to visit a site they haven’t managed to get to for a few years; Hancock Shoal. This shallow reef sits at about 9m deep, off the coast of Coolum (out from Stumers Creek) and was monitored in 2009, and had not been visited since due to its location. We were excited to be able to have the opportunity to check out this site and all it had to offer! The surface ocean temperature was warm; warmer than we have previously recorded on the Sunshine Coast. Around the world, the Earth’s oceans are having their warmest start to a year on record as El Niño and climate change combine to produce unrivalled January-February sea surface temperatures. Last year was the warmest year on record for Earth’s global oceans, with sea surface temperatures running at record high levels from mid-March until the end of the year. This unprecedented global ocean heat was caused in part by the warming effects of climate change and El Niño. What does this mean for local reefs? For Hancock Shoal; read on. This site is an interesting site; similar in many ways to much of the patchy reef that makes up the wider Sunshine Coast reef areas. A mix of hard and soft corals, rocky substrate and small gulleys, offering ample habitats for all types of fish and invertebrates. Being so far away from large river mouths also allowed for clearer water, a lovely surprise! It has been a while since we were able to survey this site, however it is nice to know that the coral population has been thriving. Hard and soft coral populations have increased, as well as sponges. A small amount of bleaching was recorded, with just one percent of the overall population being bleached; although individual corals were bleached completely. Drupella snails (a coral eating snail) and Drupella scars were recorded, some fishing line and a few unknown scars. Two anemones were the only other invertebrates recorded on the transect. Butterfly fish, sweetlip, snapper and a moray eel were recorded on the fish survey. Thank you to Blue Tortuga Adventures for getting us to site. These vital reef health surveys are not possible without our amazing volunteers, so thankyou for all that you do! 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 is supported by the Sunshine Coast Councils Environment Levy Partnerships Grant. Wavebreak Island - Reef Health Survey Known locally as Wavebreak Island just across from the Gold Coast Seaway, what a surprising gem of a site! Established in 2019 by Reef Check Australia in collaboration with Gold Coast City Council, this spot boasts a rocky scree starting at 5m and plunging down to 12m. We were expecting another routine survey dive, but oh, the wonders that awaited! We encountered a bustling ecosystem teeming with life. From barracudas to elusive moray eels and even a daring stonefish or two (ouch!), each section of our transect revealed a new surprise. A school of almost 20 butterfly fish came to check our team out and who could forget the majestic lion's mane jellyfish gracefully drifting by? Our encounter with a little rock lobster added a pinch of excitement to the dive but not as much excitement as the encrusting sponge between the rock, rubble sand and algae. A few Drupella snails were recorded, along with plenty of debris, however no other target invertebrates or impacts were recorded. Massive shoutout to our amazing team and a heartfelt thank you to Skipper Harry of Gold Coast Dive Adventures for getting us to site, for looking out for us on the surface and for taking care of the boat 🙌🚤 Reef Check Acknowledge the people of the Yugambeh language region of the Gold 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 City of Gold Coasts Catchment and Citizen Science Grants Program. Gold Coast Seaway - Reef Health Survey Today’s survey expedition took us to our site at Gold Coast Seaway Pipeline established in 2015 by Reef Check Australia after initially conducting a clean-up dive and discovering the diversity of organisms and substrates at this site, and the potential for change over time. Exposed daily to heavy boat traffic and very popular with local snorkellers, fishers and divers alike, this site faces unique challenges from anthropogenic activities. Our team were treated to lovely clear conditions giving them the best chance of documenting reef health and local impacts. This year we observed a similar abundance of target fish species, in particular butterflyfish and snapper compared to previous years and increased snapper.  We also saw three moray eels, and some very large stonefish along the transect. This site has a lot to offer and whilst we didn’t see any banded coral shrimp, lobster or collector urchins near our transect line this year, we did document a few drupella snails; a small coral eating snail; on rocks and other substrate. Shoutout to our rock-solid dive team and legendary surface watch for making today both safe, and a real treat! Thank you to Aqua Adventures for hiring us tanks, and to all our amazing volunteers who volunteered their time to help out. Your assistance is much appreciated as always. Reef Check Acknowledge the people of the Yugambeh language region of the Gold 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 City of Gold Coasts Catchment and Citizen Science Grants Program. Clean Up Australia Day - Stradbroke Island Reef Check Australia volunteers from the SEQ region joined Clean Up Straddie Day (CUSD) as part of Clean Up Australia Day (CUAD) 2024. We joined forces with the Marine Society UQ students and cleaned up South Gorge and Main Beach on Minjerribah/North Stradbroke Island. Our team collected over 4 kg of litter and found an overwhelming amount of microplastics around the South Gorge area. It would seem that plastics are being retained on the South Gorge beach which could cause harm to native fauna as well as continue to pollute the ocean. We encourage anyone visiting this area to be mindful of their waste disposal and support efforts to keep our beaches clean. Keep an eye out for future cleanups in the area to work towards a cleaner, healthier, and more pristine environment for us all to enjoy! Thank you to the Stradbroke Brewing Co. for facilitating the CUSD event, and all the other partners who participated in the cleanup. We acknowledge and pay our respects to the Traditional Custodians and Elders of the land and their continued cultural and spiritual practices. This project is supported by the Port of Brisbane as a part of their environmental monitoring program.   Great Barrier Reef John Brewer Reef - Reef Health Survey Finally getting a break in the weather our small team jumped onboard Adrenalin Dive and headed out to John Brewer Reef. This reef is approximately 70km offshore and is the location of the Museum of Underwater Art, but our survey sites are located on the reef on the northern side of the structures. The day started out rainy and stayed that way, but at least the seas were calm which made for a comfortable and speedy trip to site. Our team completed Reef Check Australia Reef Health Surveys on two sites. Site 1 is located at around 6m deep and follows the reef wall to the ocean side. Site 1 sits on top of the reef and depending on the tide can be between 0.5m to 3m deep. Whilst there was plenty of very healthy coral and lots of fish were observed, the reef has sustained a fair amount of damage from Cyclone Kirrily. Significant amounts of damage and bleaching were observed but we also recorded a couple of giant clams, observed anemones with fish and a school of squid and a number of nudibranchs (much to the delight of the team). Thanks to Adrenalin Dive and their crew for getting us to site. These surveys were conducted on the traditional lands and sea country of the Manbarra People. We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians and their Elders past, present and emerging. Offshore Townsville Surveys are part of Reef Ecologic’s Integrated Coral Reef Citizen Science 2.0 Program, funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation    Books and podcasts Have you read or listened to something lately that you would like to share? Let us know and we can feature it here Marine Plants of Australia by John M Huisman We love this book for helping to identify algae that we encounter within our marine environment. This revised edition released in 2023 includes 640 species of underwater plant life. Current Coral Affairs Check out some of the latest news and research about our ocean When is a jellyfish not a jellyfish? When it's a sea cucumber Read now in: Dive Magazine What was Jodi doing in Antarctica? Find out in this interview with ABC News. Places in this amazing program are still available so check out Homeward Bound. Get with the Program Here's what we've got coming up in the next few weeks, keep checking the website for more updates.  4 Apr | Ambassador Training Starts - We still have spaces available so get in contact ASAP if you would like to join. Want to become a Reef Check Australia ambassador? Head to our website for more information and to register. 10-12 Apr | Ocean Film Festival Brisbane - come say hi to our team at our stall on 10 & 11 April. Tickets at Ocean Film Festival 14 Apr | Land based Clean Up Waites Bay Whitsundays - spots are limited. Contact [email protected] if you are interested in helping out. 20 Apr | Snorkel Clean Up Grays Bay Bowen - spots are limited and date subject to weather/water conditions. Contact [email protected] if you are interested in helping out. 21 Apr | Underwater and Land Based Clean Up Alma Bay - Magnetic Island. spots are limited and date subject to weather/water conditions. Contact  [email protected] if you are interested in helping out. 30 Apr | Coast to Corals talk - stay tuned for more information 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.    Make a Donation   Copyright © 2023 Reef Check Australia, All rights reserved.You have received this newsletter because you have given Reef Check Australia your email address. If you would prefer not to receive any further emails, please click the unsubscribe link in your email.Our mailing address is: Reef Check Australia PO Box 782, Mooloolaba, QLD, 4557Australia
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Around the Reef - Reef Check Australia - March 2024

March 03, 2024
Dear Friend Wow it's autumn already and we are still having mild heatwaves and strange rainfall patterns. Our teams have been out and about doing surveys and clean ups plus we bring you some more of our activities from the end of last year. We would also like to welcome our new trainee surveyors from across Qld who are part way through their training. We look forward to having them on our surveys once they finish. This months email includes: Action of the Month: Autumnal Awakening: Clean Up Your World with Reef Check Australia!  News from the Field Current Coral Affairs Get With the Program Autumnal Awakening: Clean Up Your World with Reef Check Australia! Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash As the warm autumn air paints the landscape in fiery hues, it's time to shed the summer's languor and embrace a season of renewal. This March, Reef Check Australia invites you to embark on an "Autumnal Awakening: Clean Up Your World" mission, a chance to declutter not just your home, but also your mind, your community, and most importantly, our precious ocean. 1.De-stress and Reconnect: Autumn mornings still offer plenty of sunlight, making early morning walks along the coastline, and ocean dips the perfect start to the day. Listen to the waves crash, the pandanus and or gum treees whisper, and take a deep breath with them. March is full of opportunity. Why not connect or reconnect with your RCA team! Join a reef health survey, or a rockpool ramble. Dive into the vibrant coral world, and let the rhythm of the ocean lull your worries away. By calming your mind and nurturing your spirit, you'll radiate positive energy that ripples outward, enriching both yourself and the environment. 2.Spruce Up Your Backyard Paradise: Summer rain and winds have left their remnants for us all to see. Autumn winds offer us the perfect excuse for a garden clean-up. Organize a local creek clean-up, or join in one of ours; Clean Up Australia events are held around the country this March 3rd. Volunteer to take part in our coral restoration project, pick up rubbish on your next walk, or simply pull invasive weeds from your own backyard. Every native shrub planted, every piece of plastic removed, is a victory for the creatures who call our land and sea home. Remember, a clean environment is a healthy and thriving paradise for everyone. 3.Champion a Vibrant Ocean Future: Just like leaves falling to nourish the earth, our voices have the power to nurture a cleaner ocean. Spread awareness about marine pollution, support sustainable seafood initiatives, and urge your local council to champion ocean health policies. Remember, even small actions, like using reusable coffee cups and choosing recycled paper, add up to a powerful tide protecting our beloved ocean. This March, let's embrace the spirit of autumnal change and clean up not just our surroundings, but also our minds and hearts. Together, with Reef Check Australia as your guide, we can create a cleaner, healthier, and more vibrant world for ourselves and for the ocean we love. So, join us, take action, and let's make this autumn a season of positive change, one autumn leaf at a time!   News from the field Stories and updates from our teams out & about.  South East Queensland Clean Up for Hatchlings Snorkel. On a cloudy, rainy Saturday morning, several keen Reef Check Australia ambassadors and volunteers gathered at La Balsa Park, Buddina. This special occasion was to mark the 10th anniversary of an event co-founded by Reef Check Australia, Sunshine Coast Council, and Sea Life Aquarium called Clean Up 4 the Hatchlings (CU4TH). The purpose of this event is to ensure the beaches we share with critically endangered nesting loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) are free of plastic and other anthropogenic items left by humans. Each year the program has slowly grown into a bigger and better event, with this year hosting its underwater cleanup on January the 13th by the Mooloolah River. Several Reef Check Australia team leaders as well as the wonderful team over at 10 little pieces collaboratively led an avid and keen volunteer group of snorkellers on a joyous underwater adventure in an attempt to clean the popular park and river from marine debris deposited by beach and parkgoers as well as marine debris washed in from the ocean. We had to navigate through bouts of rain and wind to rid the popular park and river of marine debris, including tangled fishing lines, plastic bags, bottles, and cans, totalling 149 items weighing 3.5kg. The underwater cleanup proved not only an environmental mission but also an educational one. As we worked, we engaged with local beach and parkgoers, seizing the opportunity to raise awareness about the impact of plastic waste and the importance of environmental stewardship. This dialogue is a crucial element of our mission, highlighting individual responsibility and the collective power we have in safeguarding our marine ecosystems. Wrapping up the day, our volunteers, some of whom alternated between snorkelling and land-based efforts, left with a sense of accomplishment and a deeper understanding of the marine environment. Our actions at La Balsa Park are a part of a larger campaign, with more cleanups across Noosa and Sunshine Coast areas in February as a part of the land based CU4TH event. At Reef Check Australia, we remain dedicated to fostering a community actively engaged in preserving our coastal ecosystems, continually working towards a sustainable and vibrant marine future. 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 Acknowledges the Kabi Kabi peoples of the Sunshine Coast, the 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 Sunshine Coast Council’s Environment Levy Partnerships Grant. Little Halls Reef - Noosa Reef Health Survey Spotting a break in the weather, the Reef Check Australia team headed to Noosa last October to check out Little Halls Reef.  Little Halls is a shallow reef (12-15m) popular with local fisherman. It is a small narrow ridge consisting of a coffee rock base with encrusting corals, soft corals, sponges and ascidians making up the majority of the vertical benthos. Site was was set in 2011, with Site 2 set up in 2019 as a part of an extension of reef health monitoring in the region.  Coffee rock is a unique formation that can be found along Queensland's coastline, where coastal processes meet fluctuating sea levels, lies a unique formation called coffee rock. This soft, dark brown rock is essentially hardened sand, bonded by organic matter from decaying plants. Its story starts with humic acids leaching through sandy soils, encountering aluminium-rich groundwater, and solidifying into a distinct layer beneath the surface. Interesting, right! Sponges and Ascidians with a very small portion of hard and soft corals made up the benthos amongst rock, sand and nutrient indicator algae. Three anchors were found at Site 1 with four anchors found at site 2. Drupella snails (34 & 72 respectively) and pencil urchins were the only invertebrates recorded. Drupella are coral eating snails, however at this location, none of the snails were found on live coral. Coral Trout, Snapper, Butterflyfish and Sweetlips were also found at this location. Thank you to Blue Tortuga Adventures for getting us to site and making sure all activities are safe. A massive thank you to all of our surveyors and coordinators behind the scenes that make these surveys happen! These vital reef health surveys are not possible without our amazing volunteers, so thankyou for all that you do! Reef Check Acknowledge the Kabi Kabi people of the Noosa region, 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 is supported by the Noosa Shire Council Jew Shoal Noosa Reef Health Survey The Pinnacles Site 1 was set up as a long term monitoring site in 2009, with Site 2 added in 2013. The site sits at approximately 9-12m with the top of the reef at 4-5m. Jew Shoal is located in Noosa’s Laguna Bay. The site itself is a large area made up of canyons, ridges and bommies, with two main features; the pinnacles. The gutters and rocky substrate is covered in colourful hard and soft corals.  This site was last monitored in 2019. The site is dominated by encrusting hard coral, soft coral, rock, sponge and ascidians. Anemones, long spined sea urchins, pencil urchins and Drupella snails were recorded during the invertebrate surveys. Seventeen pieces of fishing debris was recorded and removed from site 1. A small amount of bleaching was recorded, however only one percent of the population was impacted overall. Butterflyfish, snapper and sweetlip were spotted along the transect. Thank you to Blue Tortuga Adventures for getting us to site. These vital reef health surveys are not possible without our amazing volunteers, so thankyou for all that you do! 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 is supported by Noosa Council. Great Barrier Reef Magnetic Island Geoffrey Bay Reef Health Survey In early November a small team from Townsville headed to Magnetic Island for our annual reef health surveys. In Geoffrey Bay, we have two survey sites along the snorkel trail, these sites are some of our newer ones being established in 2016. Geoffrey Bay is the location where coral spawning was first discovered back in 1981, and our surveys this year followed immediately after the annual spawning event here. Coral cover at this site had been consistently high over the 8-year period it has been surveyed with approximately 65% hard coral cover observed this year, and minimal coral bleaching. Some coral scars (cause unknown) and coral damage (likely caused by human impact as there has been a lot of snorkeller and diver activity at this site over the coral spawning period) were recorded along the transects. The team also had the pleasure of seeing an epaulette shark along the transect, a common reef shark species found around Magnetic Island! A special thanks to our surveyors Joan and Rachelle and surface watch Aabha for making this trip possible, and being available at short notice to make the most of the decent conditions whilst they last! Also thank you to Pleasure Divers for tank hire, allowing us to complete these surveys. This project is made possible through support from Townsville City Council through their Creek to Coral program, the Integrated Coral Reef Citizen Science 2.0 Program funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, and Reef Ecologic. We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on where these activities take place, the Manbarra and Bwgcolman people of Palm Island, and the Wulgurukaba and Bindal People of the Townsville and Magnetic Island region. We pay our respects to their elders, past, present and emerging and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in our community today.    Whitsundays, Hook Island Clean Up Our small team took advantage of some nice weather and conducted an underwater clean up dive in Luncheon Bay at Hook Island in October. The corals were noted to be very healthy and, as on previous occasions, no debris was observed during our one-hour search (which is good news for the reef).  We opted to defer the land based clean up and waited until we had experienced an extended period of strong North and North-easterly winds. This site on Hook Island faces North and was therefore more likely to be impacted by marine debris following these winds. The beach is composed of coral rubble of various sizes and the beach front is currently a very steep grade into the water. Our team scoured the beach and adjoining bushland and were happy to report very low litter loads again. The rough nature of the beach does provide the opportunity for smaller items of debris to travel down between the rubble pieces and out of sight, but our items did include 18 pieces of hard plastic, 2 bottle tops and 2 pieces of polystyrene. Our most interesting finds were a pair of sunglasses (minus the arms) and a section of metal boat propellor. Thanks to John at Whitsunday Paradise Explorer for getting us to site. These surveys were conducted on the traditional lands and sea country of the Ngaro People of the Whitsundays. We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians and 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. Bowen Grays Bay Reef Health Survey With the GM from SEQ in town, we jumped in at Grays Bay in Bowen to conduct our inaugural Reef Check Australia reef health survey at this site. This site faces north and contains a narrow reef that starts close to the shore line and heads north where it gradually widens and the variety of coral increases.  This site was chosen based on it’s popularity with snorkellers and fishers when strong south easterlies impact Horseshoe Bay and Rose Bay. This site is not subject to currents and as such tends to have a layer of silt and poor visibility most of the time. Luckily as the reef is shallow, we can survey it on snorkel at low tide. Hard coral was the dominant substrate at 33%, followed by silt at 17%. We also recorded 6% bleached coral on the point intersect substrate survey. During our impact survey we recorded bleaching on 10% of the population in the survey area, along with 14 incidents of coral damage. Target invertebrates were not observed but fish were recorded with snapper and butterflyfish the most dominant. We returned in February to complete a CoralWatch and Eye on the Reef Rapid survey and noted that the amount of damaged coral appeared to have increased along with bleaching. However the bleaching only affected a few species of coral and we observed completely bleached corals right next to healthy corals. Also of note, the small coral recruits close to shore appeared to be healthy and did not show signs of bleaching. These surveys were conducted on the traditional lands and sea country of the Ngaro, Gia and Juru People of the Whitsundays. We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians and their Elders past, present and emerging. This project is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government's Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.   Books and podcasts Have you read or listened to something lately that you would like to share? Let us know and we can feature it here Whale with Steve Backshall Streaming on ABC iview, Steve takes an interesting look at different whale and dolphin species around the globe, how they interact and feed and some of the pressures they face. Watch on ABC iview Current Coral Affairs Check out some of the latest news and research about our ocean How anglerfish lure their prey!They use a fishing rod! Read now in: Australian Geographic First ever recorded sighting of baby Great White shark A baby newborn great white shark has been filmed off Southern California. Read more: Dive Magazine   Get with the Program Here's what we've got coming up in the next few weeks, keep checking the website for more updates.  3 Mar | Clean Up Australia Day Coral Sea Marina Airlie Beach  Join in the clean up at Airlie Beach from 8.30 to 10.30 head over to  Coral Sea Marina for more info . 3 Mar | Clean Up Australia Day Stradbroke Island Cleanups and registration points at Point Lookout, Dunwich and Amity Point Head over to Straddie Brewing Co for more information 4 Apr | Ambassador Training Starts Want to become a Reef Check Australia ambassador? Head to our website for more information and to register. 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.    Make a Donation   Copyright © 2023 Reef Check Australia, All rights reserved.You have received this newsletter because you have given Reef Check Australia your email address. If you would prefer not to receive any further emails, please click the unsubscribe link in your email.Our mailing address is: Reef Check Australia
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Around the Reef - Reef Check Australia - February 2024

February 16, 2024
Dear Friend We're Back!, well we never really went anywhere but we did have a well deserved break and hope you all did too. The festive season was somewhat sketchy for those of us in the north of Queensland with Cyclone Jasper causing havoc around Cairns, Wujal Wujal and beyond. Then at the end of January Cyclone Kirrily decided to pay us a visit. Luckily she did not have the massive impact of Jasper and now SEQ is being swamped by record rainfall! Our thoughts are with everyone that was, and continues to be, affected by these events. Given the break in operations and the inability to get out for field work, this month we bring you some more of the activities we completed in 2023. This months email includes: Action of the Month: Love like the Ocean News from the Field Gift Ideas Current Coral Affairs Get With the Program Love like the ocean! Photo by Khadeeja Yasser on Unsplash February may whisper of romance, but at Reef Check Australia, we believe "love" is a much grander tide, ebbing and flowing through ourselves, our communities, and the ocean we adore. So, this month, we're celebrating Love like the Ocean as our The Action of the Month! But how do we truly translate this feeling of love into action? Dive with us into three ways to show your love in February: 1. Embrace Self-Love's Ripple Effect: The ocean cherishes every drop, and so should you! Prioritize a quiet morning walk on the beach, treat yourself to a mindful meditation with the rhythmic waves as your soundtrack, or cook a nourishing meal. When you nurture yourself, you radiate kindness and inspiration, creating ripples of positivity that reach your community and the environment. 2. Strengthen the Reef of Community: Like coral polyps building a vibrant reef, join hands with your community. Do a beach clean-up (or join in for ours coming up this weekend!), volunteer at a marine conservation project, or host a fundraising event for local ocean advocacy groups. These actions not only benefit the environment but also forge bonds of shared passion and purpose, strengthening the fabric of your community. 3. Be the Tide of Change for the Ocean: Remember every small action adds up to a powerful wave of change. Ditch single-use plastics for reusable alternatives, choose sustainable seafood, and educate others about ocean threats. These everyday choices may seem insignificant, but collectively, they form a mighty current protecting the future of our beloved ocean. Let February be a month where love overflows onto the shores of self, community, and the environment. Remember, every act of kindness, every conscious choice, every moment of connection is a love letter to the ocean. Let's show our love through action, and watch the waves of positive change rise!   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 Peel Island Restoration Project Check Up. Science isn't always pretty; but it is amazing. We continue to watch the weather for even the slightest chance of getting on the water, so when the winds died down and the sun came out, we jumped at the chance to go and check on our Peel Island Reef Restoration project site. With the outstanding assistance from Seaworld, it was a true example of collaboration; and what can be achieved when we all work together. With representatives from The Moreton Bay Foundation, The Goodman Foundation, and Brisbane Airport Corporation, as well as Reef Check Australia volunteers; reef health surveyors, reef ambassadors, beach clean up volunteers, volunteers in training and even a board member all joined forces to check in on the project, clean up the structures, document any changes to the growth of the corals, and remove the fishing debris covering one of the structures. Despite the low visibility, conditions were favourable. Corals are doing well, everyone was able to participate in the activities and everyone had a great day in and on the water, again showcasing what we can achieve when collaborations occur. We are super excited to continue to monitor the progress of this project and invite you to participate in the next day on the water; many hands make light work after all! Massive shoutout to all involved; all the volunteers, the companies that allow their staff to take volunteer days to assist with such vital projects, our funding and support; Brisbane Airport Foundation for seed funding, The Moreton Bay Foundation and The Goodman Foundation for ongoing support and to Seaworld for their vessel support and willingness to assist. What a truly magnificent outcome for the not always glorious, but always amazing science that is Marine Biology.    Citizen Science Conference - Sunshine Coast What a fantastic three days at the Australia Citizen Science Association Conference held at the University of Sunshine Coast on 21-23 November! Reef Ambassador and Reef Health survey diver, Toni, was fortunate to observe inspirational and impactful presentations on reef citizen science - so many wonderful presenters and amazing projects. Toni presented a paper ‘Reefs on Wrecks’ in Southeast Queensland: A collaborative citizen science project to measure climate change impacts. This is a maritime archaeology and Reef Check Australia reef health citizen science project. A big thank you to CitSCiOz23 organisers and attendees for making this conference such an uplifting and exiting event! It was fantastic to meet new contacts and discuss future collaborative projects and opportunities. If you are a Reef Check Australia surveyor and are keen to participate in other shipwreck surveys, then please get in contact with Jodi or Toni. Watch this space! 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 future. This project is supported by the sunshine Coast Council’s Environmental Levy Partnerships Grant. Seaweed Restoration Festival On a splendidly sunny Saturday, October 21st, 2023, Reef Check Australia was honoured to join and support the inspiring seaweed restoration event at Alexandra Headland. Over 50 enthusiastic participants, under the guidance of the Seaweed Research Group, engaged in a significant environmental initiative – planting various seaweed species onto mesh bags for future oceanic restoration. This event, a critical part of a social science chapter led by PhD candidate Shelby Schumacher, was a testament to the power of community-driven environmental action. Reef Check Australia, with our dedication to educational outreach and support for restoration activities, found a natural synergy in the day's proceedings. We were thrilled to be part of an event that not only focused on ecological restoration but also brought together diverse groups for a common cause. The Seaweed Research Group, comprising over 30 cross-disciplinary experts, showed an exceptional commitment to harnessing seaweed’s potential for ecological, economic, and social welfare. Their innovative approach that integrates science, technology, health, and business, highlights seaweed's crucial role in marine ecosystems and its expanding economic significance. The event was more than just a restoration activity; it was a platform for learning and exchange. As participants planted seaweed, they gained insights into its pivotal role in marine ecosystems – akin to terrestrial forests, offering shelter and sustenance to a plethora of marine life. Furthermore, the Seaweed Research Group's efforts in demonstrating seaweed's diverse applications, from health benefits to its role in the global economy, were commendable. We extend our heartfelt thanks to them for inviting Reef Check Australia to be a part of this meaningful day. Reef Check Australia took this opportunity to educate attendees about the delicate coral reefs along the Sunshine Coast, emphasizing their vulnerability amidst climate change challenges. Engaging the community in discussions about reducing carbon footprints and participating in environmental activities resonated with our mission of conserving marine life through education and action. This day of environmental stewardship, knowledge sharing, and community involvement re-enforced our commitment to safeguarding our oceans. Together, we continue to pave the way for a sustainable and vibrant marine future. 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 Acknowledges the Kabi Kabi peoples of the Sunshine Coast, the 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 the Sunshine Coast Councils Environment Levy Partnership Grant. Mooloolaba Foreshore Festival At this year's Mooloolaba Foreshore Festival , Reef Check Australia got a little creative with the standard stall set up (having forgotten to pack our tables and chairs meant our inner MacGyver skills were activated), I decided to do a tatami-style set up. Our beautiful canvas banner wrapped around the gazebo, it became the perfect background shot of the sea for kids and families to take a snap! Throughout the day, we received a steady stream of visitors, particularly families with young daughters who were eager to engage in beach clean-ups, educational workshops, and nurturing aspirations for their children to become future stewards of the reef and community they lived in. There were also many who had returned to the Sunny Coast to retire who used to surf or scuba dive and wanted a new meaning to the hobbies they once pursued. Reef Check Australia certainly piqued their curiosity, and several were keen to get their feet wet again and engage in reef conservation. As the festival drew to a close, we reflected on the importance of fostering community involvement in ocean conservation and education both from the perspective of a young child growing up to that of the retired who reminisced the coastal ecosystems before rapid modernisation. Big thanks to Cheryl Tan for manning the stall and helping to engage the local Sunshine Coast community. Reef Check Acknowledges the Kabi Kabi peoples of the Sunshine Coast, the 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 the Sunshine Coast Councils Environment Levy Partnership Grant. Great Barrier Reef In December we bade farewell to one of our amazing team leaders from the GBR as she takes up a new opportunity in Western Australia. We wish Aimee all the best and thank her for her amazing efforts in her work with Reef Check Australia. Beach Clean Up - Steen's Beach Hook Island Taking advantage of a nice forecast our team headed out on the water in the beautiful Whitsundays to explore some of the beaches and see if any of them could benefit from a dedicated clean up effort. Having the advantage of a high tide, our team pulled into Steen’s Beach on Hook Island. The beach is a National Park Campground with a single table and associated benches and a long drop toilet. Our team collected some small items of broken plastic and a few miscellaneous items in the sandy beach area then headed east over the rocks and along the rockier foreshore of the adjoining beach. It was not long before the pursuit of polystyrene sent us into the trees and the green tree ants! Our team collected numerous green tree ant bites and 15kgs of rubbish from this beach, including 144 pieces of polystyrene, 154 pieces of hard plastic, 15 thongs (no matching pairs), 22 plastic drink bottles and, concerningly, 8 bleach bottles (Kuat brand). As posted by Tangaroa Blue on 25 February 2022, (Facebook/Tangaroa Blue), these foreign bleach bottles come from a number of countries and may come in on the ocean currents after being dumped overboard from foreign fishing vessels. The bleach is one of the arsenals used in “cyanide fishing” to stun the fish for live capture. Having covered over 700m of beach, a falling tide forced us back to the boat with our load to ensure we could safely exit the area. Thanks to John at Whitsunday Paradise Explorer for getting us to site, helping with the clean up and hauling the rubbish back to the boat. This clean up was conducted on the traditional lands and sea country of the Ngaro People of the Whitsundays. We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians and their Elders past, present and emerging.  This project is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government's Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.       Whitsundays, Daydream Island Reef Health Survey A small but enthusiastic team headed over to Daydream Island in the beautiful Whitsundays to conduct our annual Reef Check Australia, Reef Health Surveys, along with Eye of the Reef Rapid Surveys and CoralWatch. Both sites were set up in 2013 and have been monitored since then as funds allow. Like many of the sites in the Whitsundays, these sites were severely impacted by Cyclone Debbie and coral cover has not recovered to levels observed prior to this event. Lovers Cove historically had levels of soft coral around 30% and hard coral initially recorded at 33% in 2013. Soft coral levels fluctuated at Mermaids Cove with hard coral cover initially at 15%. During our surveys in 2020 hard coral was less than 2% at Lovers Cove and zero at Mermaids Cove. Hard coral cover has increased to 9% at Lovers Cove and 18% at Mermaids Cove. However, these percentages only represent what was located under the transect tape and recorded during the point intercept survey and do not take into account the numerous corals that were observed scattered around the survey area. Encouragingly we also observed numerous hard coral recruits taking up residence on the bare substrate. Minimal bleaching was observed at both sites but at less than 1% of the population.  Parrotfish were the most observed target fish at both sites, with butterflyfish and coral trout also observed, along with numerous non-target fish. A big thanks to our volunteers Deb Duggan and Terry Farr for helping out, Daydream Island Resort and Living Reef team for making us welcome and Cruise Whitsundays for getting us to site. These surveys were conducted on the traditional lands and sea country of the Ngaro People of the Whitsundays. We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians and their Elders past, present and emerging. This project is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government's Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. Magnetic Island Nelly Bay Reef Health Surveys In early November we started our annual reef health surveys around the Townsville Region for the season. First up was Nelly Bay, Magnetic Island, a site that was established in 2003 and has been surveyed regularly over the past 20 years. Over this period we have observed a decrease in hard coral cover, and in rock (dead coral, often covered in turf algae or crustose coralline algae) among the substrate. No trends were detected in coral impacts or invertebrate presence. Similar to last year, this year’s surveys had very high macroalgae (specifically Sargassum) cover across data points on the substrate survey. However, the height of the Sargassum was approximately 0.5m this year, compared to 3m+ last year when the surveys were conducted in late December when the water was approximately 3 degrees warmer. The team observed some bleaching of hard corals, however this was a small portion of individual colonies (i.e. for each colony of coral that was bleached, approximately 5% of that colony was bleached, with the remaining 95% healthy). A special thanks to our surveyors Joan and Rachelle and surface watch Aabha for making this trip possible and for being available at short notice to make the most of the decent conditions whilst they last! Also thank you to Pleasure Divers for tank hire, allowing us to complete these surveys. This project is made possible through support from Townsville City Council through their Creek to Coral program, the Integrated Coral Reef Citizen Science 2.0 Program funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, and Reef Ecologic. We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on where these activities take place, the Manbarra and Bwgcolman people of Palm Island, and the Wulgurukaba and Bindal People of the Townsville and Magnetic Island region. We pay our respects to their elders, past, present and emerging and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in our community today.     Books and podcasts Have you read or listened to something lately that you would like to share? Let us know and we can feature it here The Exceptions - Kate Zernike Not specifically marine related but an interesting story of the struggles of women for recognition in science. With so much focus nowadays on Women in STEM, this book shows how far we have come since the 1960's.   Current Coral Affairs Check out some of the latest news and research about our ocean Antarctica - a continent in crisisEven the most remote place on Earth is beginning to crumble.. Read now in: Australian Geographic What is an ocean avalanche? They are terrifying and deadly on land, but what about under the sea? Read more: Australian Geographic So you think bottled water is better than tap? Bottled water has up to 100 times more plastic particles than previously thought. Read more: Popular Science Get with the Program Here's what we've got coming up in the next few weeks, keep checking the website for more updates.  3 Feb | Clean Up for the Hatchlings - Land Based Activities This is the 10 year anniversary of this awesome event. Clean up your beach and come along for free BBQ and amazing prizes at Coopers Lookout Park, Buddina. For more info and to register for your favourite beach head to Eventbrite. 6 Feb | Coast to Corals - Erik Sandertun Roed and lobster monitoring in Norway. Register on our Website 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.    Make a Donation   Copyright © 2023 Reef Check Australia, All rights reserved.You have received this newsletter because you have given Reef Check Australia your email address. If you would prefer not to receive any further emails, please click the unsubscribe link in your email.Our mailing address is: Reef Check Australia PO Box 782, Mooloolaba, QLD, 4557Australia
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Around the Reef - Reef Check Australia - December 2023

February 16, 2024
Dear Friend The festive season is certainly here and everyone is looking forward to a short break. Our teams have been busy this last month but we still have some past activities to share with you. Whilst some of these news items might seem a bit old, we still want to share the amazing work our teams have been doing and give a big shout out to our amazing supporters and grant funders who make these projects possible. As promised last month, we also bring you a list of just some of our favourite local and small businesses that we encourage you to support when doing your Christmas shopping. This months email includes: Action of the Month: That's a Wrap News from the Field Gift Ideas Current Coral Affairs Get With the Program That's a Wrap! Photo by freestocks on Unsplash Another year done and dusted and as the world slows down for a few days over the silly season it allows us the perfect time to reflect on the past 12 months and all that has happened. The highlights and the challenges. The successes and opportunities to grow. All offer the opportunity to be grateful for the experience, and allow a platform for us to reflect and plan for the next 12 months. As we look ahead to the new year, it's a time to set goals, make plans, and dream big. Whether it's traveling to a new destination, learning a new skill, or simply taking more time for self-care, there's a sense of optimism and possibility that comes with the start of a new year. For Reef Check Australia, the magnificent team behind the scenes that make it all work accomplished outstandiing things. Along the length of the QLD coastline, almost 100 reef health surveys were completed, and over 80 community events, fundraising nights, movie nights, and beach/underwater clean ups were conducted. Over 20 Reef Ambassadors and 12 Reef Health Surveyors completed their training, and we set up a reef restoration project in Moreton Bay. Hundreds of kg of marine debris was removed from our waterways, beaches and oceans, and hundreds of community members found out who RCA is, and what we do. We even presented citizen science data at two conferences. We strengthened partnerships and created new ones. We won awards, and were finalists for others. That's a really big year for a small team, so thankyou to each and every single one of you. Your support, assistance, energy and input makes a huge impact and we appreciate you. So as we say goodbye to 2023, let's take a moment to celebrate the good, acknowledge the challenges, and look forward with hope and optimism to what lies ahead. Here's to a new year full of possibility, growth, and happiness. That's a wrap! 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 Gold Coast Training - Reef Ambassadors During July and August our latest group of enthusiastic volunteers undertook our Reef Ambassador training course. The theory component is delivered online, enabling people to join from all over the state, all the while reducing our carbon footprint by removing the need to travel. Whilst some of our new ambassadors are yet to complete their face-to-face component, we did have new volunteer participation at the recent Gold Coast Whale Festival. This was a great opportunity for them to learn from more experienced volunteers and practice their skills in communicating with a wide range of people. Our ambassadors brought a fantastic selection of ideas for new projects and events that they wish to organise so we can’t wait to see these come to fruition. Reef Check Australia acknowledge the 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 City of Gold Coasts Catchment and Citizen Science Grants Program. . Kirra Reef Health Survey, August 2023 The sun was out and so were we! With a few days in a row of gorgeous weather, we headed to Kirra reef for our annual reef health monitoring at the site. Our team was lucky enough to encounter watch whales and dolphins on the way to site, making it a truly special day for all of us 😊 Kirra Reef is situated at the southern end of the Gold Coast and consists of scattered rocky outcrops that are covered in kelp and algae. It is approximately 400m from the shore, and is protected on three sides by land, making it accessible most of the year. Despite being close to shore, access by boat is recommended. It is approximately 100 metres in length and home to an array of soft corals, feather stars, anemones, cephalopods and an abundance of fish species. Eagle rays, wobbegongs and turtles can often be spotted just off this reefal area if you have a keen eye and time to explore. Reef Check Australia has been monitoring Southeast Queensland reefs since 2007, and Kirra Reef  since 2019, as part of a partnership with City of Gold Coast to monitor the health of reefs in the area. The team were delighted to find the site full of marine life including the smallest wobbegong anyone had ever seen, an octopus, nudibranchs, sea urchins and so many fish! A small amount of debris was recorded on the site, most drifting with the algae in the gulley’s between the rocky coral covered outcrops. The site supports a large number of anemones, ascidians and flowery soft corals and lots of different types of algae, often making substrate surveys a little tricker. If you get the chance to check out this small but diverse site, we highly recommend having a look!  Again, we recommend access by boat for safety. Big thanks to Gold Coast Dive Adventures for getting us to the site! Reef Check Acknowledge the people of the Yugambeh language region of the Gold 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 City of Gold Coasts Catchment and Citizen Science Grants Program. Caloundra Music Festival Basking in perpetual sunshine, the 16th annual Caloundra Music Festival took place from Friday the 29th to Sunday the 1st of October and boasted an idyllic setting, bordering the scenic Kings Beach. With a diverse lineup, the festival attracted thousands, serenading them with genres ranging from rap and funk to blues and jazz. While single-use items were minimized through the use of reusable cups and a focus on recycling and composting, Reef Check Australia volunteers took the opportunity to blend environmental education with entertainment. Positioned strategically amidst the festival grounds, they engaged the public on marine conservation efforts and recommended local snorkelling spots to experience the underwater world of the Sunshine Coast. While the music resonated with the attendees, the event also struck a chord on environmental awareness. Partnering with Reef Check Australia and BushCare Sunshine Coast, the festival aimed to educate the public on local conservation initiatives. Both organizations went beyond the festival's timeframe, advertising local citizen science opportunities for the region to get involved in environmental action beyond the three-day event. Volunteers from Reef Check actively discussed ongoing projects in the area and invited festivalgoers to get involved in future conservation efforts. Meanwhile, BushCare Sunshine Coast promoted land-based conservation projects, emphasizing the interconnectedness of terrestrial and marine ecosystems. By intertwining the melodies of the festival with the vital message of environmental responsibility, the event created a lasting impact that will likely reverberate in the actions of attendees long after the last note faded away. A massive thankyou to our new Ambassadors Jolin, Jake and Erica who completed the last elements of their Reef Ambassador course whilst at the festival. Volunteers are vital to the work we do, and we appreciate your time and energy! Thankyou, and we look forward to seeing you art future events! 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 is supported by the Sunshine Coast Councils Environment Levy Partnership Grant.    Moreton Bay - St Helena Reef Health Surveys A sunny day between wind and rain. Despite heavy rains over the past few weeks, Moreton Bay put on a show in September, showing just how gorgeous the on-water conditions can be, meaning this tiny but might Reef Check Australia team was able to get out and conduct a summer reef health survey at Saint Helena Island, to document any changes to the reef in the area. Reef Check Australia has been monitoring Southeast Queensland reefs since 2007, and Saint Helena Island since 2017, as part of a partnership with Port of Brisbane to monitor the effects of activities in the Bay. These locations are monitored twice a year (summer and winter) to detect any seasonal changes. St Helena Island is located 5km from the mouth of the Brisbane River. The island itself has an interesting history. From 1867 it operated as a high security colonial prison, operating for 65 years as a self sufficient set up, complete with lime kiln, sugar refinery, a sugar cane plantation, and almost no native vegetation due to its removal early on. Reef Check Australia has two long term monitoring sites around the island.  The first site; Palindrome, is near the jetty, and has a patchy reef full of both hard and soft corals. This site was quite turbid for the winter survey; unusual for this time of year known for cold but clear conditions. A high level of silt was recorded and purple filamentous nutrient indicator algae covered almost every surface. Several items of debris were recorded; mostly glass bottles, and a couple of nudibranchs, however no target fish species were found on this survey. The second site; Ray of Sunshine, is towards the south east, and has a greater density of hard corals than Palindrome. The visibility was uncharacteristically poor for this time of year, with sediment throughout the water column. No macroalgae was recorded at this site on transect (previously found in high occurance at this site), however Nutrient Indicator Algae (NIA) was recorded in much higher counts than the previous year. This site has plenty of hard coral colonies, with bleaching affecting approximately 5% of the population, an increase since summer, and winter last year. We look forward to heading out again in a few months to continue monitoring any changes that might occur as a part of this long term monitoring program. Thankyou to Go Dive Brisbane for getting us to our reef health monitoring sites. 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, 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.       Elliot Heads - Beach Clean Up On a sunshine-filled Saturday morning in early October, the sky cleared just as our clean-up operation began, blessing our environmental efforts with clear weather to launch the start of the Great Barrier Reef Clean-up, which happened throughout the month of October. Spearheaded by Reef Check Australia and Tangaroa Blue Foundation, a diverse group of volunteers—some new to beach cleaning and others well-versed—gathered to reclaim the beauty of our coasts by removing marine debris from our shared shorelines. The scope of the clean-up was expansive, targeting not just the sandy stretches of Elliot Heads Beach but also sections of the serene mouth of Elliot River and the secluded Dr May Island. These areas are not just scenic getaways but crucial habitats for local wildlife. Migratory and critically endangered shorebirds, as well as nesting sea turtles with notably high nesting rates, call these areas home. Bordering the Great Sandy Marine Park, Elliot Heads is just 20 km south of Mon Repos, which hosts the largest nesting population of the endangered loggerhead turtles in the Southern Hemisphere, underlining the critical nature of maintaining clean and safe surrounding environments. This sandy river mouth is also home to shorebirds travelling along the East Australasian Flyway, a route that stretches from Alaska all the way to New Zealand around the western side of the Pacific. Our collaborative effort yielded 11.2 kg of marine debris, packed into three large bags. The origin of this waste varied; some were locally deposited by beachgoers and due to nearby urbanisation, while other debris had been washed ashore. Unfortunately, marine debris was even found inside empty hatched turtle egg casings, demonstrating just how present this problem is in the lives of turtles already. All items collected were meticulously sorted, weighed, and their data incorporated into the Australian Marine Debris Initiative Database. This feeds into a nationwide dataset that scientists across the country can utilise to gain a better understanding of the plastic pollution problem. By the end of the day, it was evident that the endeavour was about more than just physical cleaning—it was a determined community effort to preserve the natural beauty of an important ecosystem. Remember, each individual action serves as a stepping stone towards a larger, collective goal: the sustainable health and beauty of our marine and terrestrial environments. Reef Check acknowledges the Traditional Country of the Taribelang Bunda, Gooreng Gooreng, Gurang, and Bailai Peoples on the land and sea country where these activities took place. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present, and emerging. ReefClean is funded by the Australian Government's Reef Trust and delivered by the Tangaroa Blue Foundation.    Great Barrier Reef Alma Bay Clean Up The conditions around Magnetic Island have been very windy and swelly over the last couple of months, so as soon as our Townsville team found a break in these conditions, we quickly headed to Alma Bay to conduct our biannual beach and underwater clean up as part of Tangaroa Blue's ReefClean project. Being school holidays, we weren’t surprised to see this beach full of people when we arrived, nor were we surprised to find items such as sunglasses, hats and hair clips during the 40 minute scuba dive, however we did only fall a small amount of eight debris underwater. As for the beach clean up, we had a very different outcome with a total of 566 pieces of marine debris collected along the beach which is les than 200m long. The most common debris as expected was hard plastic remnants, accounting for 397 of the 566 pieces of debris. As microplastic surveys throughout Australia have identified this location to have the highest concentration of microplastic of any surveyed beach in the country, we decided to separate microplastics (those less than 5mm in diameter) from larger pieces. We collected 192 microplastics from within the seaweed along the high tide line! On a positive note, this time around we found much less glass from smashed alcoholic beverage bottles compared to last clean up at this location in May – only 6 pieces of glass this time compared to the 465 we collected last time. 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. All debris form this event were sorted and the data added to the Australian Marine Debris Initiative Database. We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on where these activities take place, the Wulgurukaba people. We pay our respects to their elders, past, present and emerging and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in our community today. Whitsundays, Hook Island Reef Health Survey Getting out before the winds increased again our team headed out to Hook Island with the aim to conduct our annual Reef Check Australia Reef Health Surveys, along with Eye of the Reef Rapid Surveys and CoralWatch. The Luncheon Bay site was set up in 2013, with Butterfly Bay first surveyed in 2018. Although we had planned on starting at Butterfly Bay, the presence of a very large charter boat and a huge number of snorkellers on our survey site, changed our mind and we headed to the quieter Luncheon Bay. Levels of hard coral cover at Luncheon Bay remained similar to 2022, with an increase in soft coral cover noted and a decrease in rubble. An increase in hard coral was recorded at Butterfly Bay, with a decrease in rubble. Coral bleaching was observed on all transects at Luncheon Bay but only 2 transects at Butterfly Bay, but like the other Whitsunday sites we have surveyed, it was less than 1% of the population.  Coral damage was observed on all transects at Butterfly Bay however this was not surprising as this very pretty area is very popular with snorkellers. Parrotfish and Butterflyfish dominated at both sites. Once again, clams were the only target invertebrate observed at both sites. Thanks to John at Whitsunday Paradise Explorer for getting us to site and Aquadive for supplying the tanks. These surveys were conducted on the traditional lands and sea country of the Ngaro People of the Whitsundays. We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians and their Elders past, present and emerging. This project is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government's Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.   Gift Ideas Support local, give experiences. Here are just a few of our favourite businesses to support. What to give that person who has everything? Why not Adopt a Reef! Visit our Website to make your purchase. or visit our Sea store for other great gift ideas and help support our cause. Your Mates Brewery Purchase your loved ones a gift card or a box of tasty beverages and support this local business that supports Reef Check (you may have heard about the monthly raffles?) Blue Tortuga Adventures Have someone on the Sunshine Coast who likes diving, snorkelling or fishing? Shout them a trip with Blue Tortuga. Gold Coast Dive Adventures How about a trip to the Gold Coast's Wonder reef? Whitsunday Paradise Explorer Maybe shout the family or friends a day out snorkelling or visiting the beautiful beaches and islands of the Whitsundays on your own personalised, professionally skippered small boat. Pranafest 2024 Early bird tickets now available. Shout yourself (why not) and some loved ones tickets to a weekend of wellness and awesome music on the Sunshine Coast.   Current Coral Affairs Check out some of the latest news and research about our ocean Scalloped Hammerheads gather in seas off PerthWhy - find out what researchers have been able to determine. Read now in: Australian Geographic Heatproofing Coral Can heat tolerant algae help save our coral? Read more: Australian Geographic Get with the Program Here's what we've got coming up in the next few weeks, keep checking the website for more updates.  Like most people we are taking a  break for a couple of weeks. Keep an eye on our socials for any activities that may pop up. We will have beach and snorkel clean ups early in the new year and ambassador and surveyor training course dates will be announced.   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.    Make a Donation   Copyright © 2023 Reef Check Australia, All rights reserved.You have received this newsletter because you have given Reef Check Australia your email address. If you would prefer not to receive any further emails, please click the unsubscribe link in your email.Our mailing address is: Reef Check Australia PO Box 782, Mooloolaba, QLD, 4557Australia
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