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Around the Reef - Reef Check Australia - Jan 2021 Update

January 15, 2021
Dear {{recipient.first_name_or_friend}} --  Hello and welcome to 2021! We hope your festive season was exactly that; festive! and that you were able to take some time out to enjoy the things you like to do, that you replenished your soul, enjoyed the outdoors, and are ready and rearing for a fantastic 2021. Taking inspiration from our involvement and participation in the THRIVE Festival over New Year’s Eve, January's Action of the month is to plant the seeds of intention for the year ahead. To start the new year, this months email includes: Action of the Month: Plant the Seeds of Intention for the Year Ahead Thriving into the New Year Clean-up for the Hatchlings Beer Yoga with Reef Check Seaside Scavenge Hunt & Beach Clean-up at Caloundra Getting to know our volunteers News from the Field Brain Food Current Coral Affairs Get With the Program Plant the Seeds of Intention for the Year Ahead What does this mean? For us, it means preparing for the year ahead. To think about what we want to achieve in the year ahead, and how we plan on doing that. Individually, what changes do we want to make in our life, career, relationships, friendships, or impact in the world around us? This is no easy task, but it's important to take the time and really get clear on what you want to achieve. Set your intentions. Write them down. It might be a word, a statement, an image. But be clear and get ready. Because these intentions, these seeds, we are going to plant them. You can do so physically, metaphorically, or both. You choose. But this seed of thought, of intention, or purpose; this is what will drive you through the next 12 months. Once the seed is planted, it's not set and forget. It needs nutrients to grow. So what practices, habits, and plans will you put in place to nurture it? Is it self-care, learning more, personal development, a new course, or simply dedicating time to any of the above? What is the keystone habit that will drive you ahead this year? What are the nutrients (those habits, plans, etc) that you will pour into and over your seed of intention to ensure it grows and blooms? So sit back, relax, and set your intentions for the year. And get ready to watch them bloom.   Thriving into the new Year! Written by Kade Chambers, Reef Check Australia volunteer. My passion, love for the ocean, and marine life has drawn me to the very addictive hobby of diving. It is through this love of the ocean and diving where I met Jodi and started to learn about Reef Check Australia. Since first meeting Jodi and the Reef Check team on their fundraising trip aboard Saltwater Eco Tours I have since joined them for an underwater clean up dive, and exploratory snorkels in Morton Bay. I have also been on a few recreational reef dives with Jodi, which were very educational; she is a book of knowledge on reefs and marine critters. Since learning about RCA, I wanted to find all the ways I could get more involved, so as soon as I heard they needed volunteers for THRIVE, I jumped at the chance to hang out with awesome people helping out, for New Years Eve. And WOW what an unbelievable festival! As a volunteer with RCA we were responsible for waste removal. As a part of this, we sorted and kept all the cans and bottles from the event, with all proceeds from the refund scheme donated to RCA. Even though I was collecting rubbish I probably had my best New Years to date, volunteering with Jodi, Scott, Lisa and Michael (other RCA volunteers) was made really fun. I’m pretty sure I can speak for all volunteers when I say we all had a really good night and made some money for RCA, and did our bit for the environment. It feels good to start 2021 doing something so awesome. Hats off to Jodi and the Reef Check team for their awesome work and making life for volunteers easy and enjoyable. Looking forward to the next event I can help out at.   Clean-up for the Hatchlings 2021 We are pleased that this important annual Sunshine Coast event is still able to go ahead with a COVID safe plan in place. There are still places available to help clean-up our beaches for our impending turtle hatchlings (and the entire marine ecosystem). We would love you to join us by registering at Eventbrite here. Once on there you can select the beach you wish to attend, if your first choice is not available we encourage you to select another one. There will be a QR code for sign in at the beach on the morning. Please remember to bring your own gloves, plus a hat, sunscreen, and water bottle. After the beach clean-up there is a free sausage sizzle and some prize awards at La Balsa Park at Buddina. Who does not love a free sausage sizzle???? Okay, there will be Mushrooms for the vegetarians and they are pretty awesome as well!   Beer Yoga with Reef Check  What an EPIC beer yoga event to be our last one for the year! Last month we were joined by the epic SCOTT from Younion Yoga to help us find our zen in amongst the Christmas craziness. It was nice to be able to take some time out, stretch and relax with a tasty brew in hand thanks to Your Mates Brewery before the full craziness of the silly season hit. Thank you to everyone who continues to support Reef Check Australia in any way that you can. Keen to help us kick off the next beer yoga for 2021? Stay tuned for details!   Seaside Scavenge Hunt & Beach Clean-up, Caloundra Reef Check Australia was at the Seaside Scavenge in Caloundra, on the Sunny Coast at the end of last year. This event was a fun-filled day where local community was able to pick-up rubbish in exchange for pre-loved clothes, books, toys, and furniture. Despite the very windy conditions the event was a great success which resulted in 65kg of local rubbish being collected by the enthusiastic ocean and earth lovers. The event was led by Poppy from the Visionary Ocean Warriors, who are an inspiring group of young people dedicated to protecting our oceans. The day was filled with fantastic local music, educational information booths and great guest speakers which included Sea Shepherd, Tangaroa Blue and our very own Jodi Salmond from Reef Check Australia (who also MCed the event!). A big thank you to Julie, Olga and Toni for helping out on the day (you guys rock!).   Getting to Know our Volunteers at Reef Check Australia | Ben Brauer Ben is the coordinator of New Beginnings (www.newbeginnings.net.au). ''I’ve been interested in the Marine Environment from age 5, and was pleased to be able to include marine programs into my non-profit charitable work in Queensland. For me being a part of the Reef Check Ambassador program was a valuable multi-faceted experience, bringing new knowledge for my youth marine conservation work, the possibility for cooperation with other like-minded organisations, and my first snorkel in quite a while. Above all, meeting so many lovely people, all intent on reef conservation. Thanks to all of you!! It seems I will return to some of the bays we stopped at when I take part in the Whitsunday Cleanup Flotilla on my own boat later this month. So, more knowledge gained during our RCA trip of the anchorages and channels we transited that I hadn’t been to before. Reef Check Ambassador Ben Brauer (left), with our Reef Check GBR Coordinator Nathan Cook   Where are you from? Originally from Germany, but a long-time Australian resident, currently living on the Gold Coast. What motivated you to join our team? New knowledge, new cooperations. What project are you planning on focusing on? Currently my charity’s Youth Programs, including our recently introduced Youth Marine Conservation Programs. What animal do you think best represents you? Eagle (my companion from early in life) Night owl or early bird? Early bird. Flying or invisibility? Definitely Soaring! Favourite food? I’m a Foodie. All kinds.   Thanks Ben for being an important part of Reef Check Australia.     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 Clean up at La Balsa | Mooloolah River Written by; Rachel Mcveigh, RCA scuba volunteer. It was so good to get back in the water with RCA at La Balsa, a river survey dive site. There’s always something to learn from the team leaders about the substrate, impacts, and how to identify rare species.Conditions were good to us on the day and visibility fair, considering the huge storm a couple of days prior in the region. We even saw a stick pipefish (I have never even heard of those before!) and removed over 10kg of rubbish from a short clean up on the way back. Thanks for the laughs as always guys. I love being a part of the Reef Check Australia team, and I look forward to more activities in the new year!     A Talk at Mooloolaba State School Our General Manager, Jodi Salmond, was invited back to her old primary school last month to talk to year 6 students about work in the environmental sector, and to how best to align their futures with their current goals. 'It was a beautiful experience to be able to give back to the school that kicked off my love of the ocean, and my passion for working as a marine biologist. It was great to hear so many awesome stories from the students as to what they are currently doing, and what they want to do in the future. It looks like we have a wonderful array of passionate scientists growing up on the Sunshine Coast!' Thank you to Mooloolaba State School for the invitation and for fostering such environmental stewardship in the next generation.     North Queensland Bowen Beach Clean Up & Citizen Science Surveys On Saturday December 5 a band of willing citizen scientists joined forces at Rose Bay in Bowen for a collection of citizen science activities to help the local environment. Co-led by Reef Check Ambassadors and Ngaro Traditional Owners Lynndel and Milda Oui, volunteers participated in a number of beach and in water activities collecting data for a range of citizen science programs. As part of the Reef Check Ambassador program we try to inspire ambassadors to lead projects and activities in their local area. On this occasion, as part of Reef Check’s Whitsundays Citizen Science Project, we are specifically trying to engage and support Traditional Owners to learn about the Reef and get involved in actions to support its ongoing health and resilience. In this way we hope to also support and strengthen sea country connections in the region. The event also featured Reef Check Australia GBR Coordinator Nathan Cook and Reef Check Ambassador Nerida Higgins from the Whitsundays as well as local CoralWatch Ambassador Kate Buchanan and some teachers from the local high school. The team of volunteers kicked off by conducting an Australian Microplastics Assessment Program (AUSMAP). This program involves the random selection of locations along a 50m transect at the last high tide mark and sifting the top layer of sand to find 1-5mm plastic pieces. It is pretty cool and we relied on the younger volunteers with good eyesight to find the tiny bits of plastic. Thankfully we didn’t find many. We conducted a Tangaroa Blue clean up along the beach and amongst the rocks. It was hot work and we were thankful for the shade offered by the nearby picnic area. Volunteers sorted and cataloged the rubbish found using Tangaroa Blue’s data collection sheet which allocates rubbish into a variety of categories. All of this information is submitted to Tangaroa Blue’s Australian Marine Debris Initiative database and assists in knowing what the problems are to enable the development of source reduction programs. Toward the end of the event Reef Check Australia GBR Coordinator, Nathan Cook and Reef Check Ambassador Nerida Higgins from the Whitsundays jumped in the water and completed some in water surveys. Nathan completed three Eye on the Reef Reef Health and Impact (RHIS) assessments while Nerida completed a CoralWatch Coral Health survey. All this data feeds into respective databases to help management know about and protect our marine environment.   The Reef Check Australia Whitsundays Citizen Science Project is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation     Alma Bay, Magnetic Island gets a clean on a windy Saturday The crew from Reef Check Australia headed to the little alcove that is Alma Bay in Magnetic Island for a beach and underwater clean up. It was an extremely windy Saturday, but that did not stop the volunteers' enthusiasm for some citizen science activities. 13 volunteers ranging in age from 0 (yes, a 10-month-old who admittedly didn’t do much!) to 68 participated in a marine debris clean up on the beach, and 3 hardy scuba divers braved the choppy seas to explore the underwater world for any rubbish. Underwater we found quite a bit of broken glass and not much else, no doubt washed away by the waves and surge. The team also completed a complementary AUSMAP survey on Alma Bay beach. AUSMAP is the Australian Microplastics Assessment Project and is conducted in conjunction with the regular Tangaroa Blue clean up on the adjacent beach. Overall the team collected 4kgs of marine debris, much of it small plastic pieces, clear plastic film, plastic and glass bottles, and cigarette butts. Community engagement and raising awareness is a key component of citizen science activities. It was a busy Saturday at the beach with many visitors who came and chatted to the volunteers about what we were doing and why. It was great to be able to share knowledge and inspire people to look after their own backyard. With all of these events the rubbish was weighed, counted and sorted, and the data submitted to Tangaroa Blue’s Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) database. By processing the data this way we can determine the primary contributors to the rubbish we find and look at source reduction programs to stop it getting into our natural ecosystems in the first place.   These clean ups were part of the @reefclean project, funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and delivered by @tangaroablue Foundation and a number of partner organisations including Reef Check Australia      Brain Food Reviews and details on books, documentaries, and podcasts that we have come across, & wanted to share. Books   The Overstory | By Richard Powers Shortlisted for the Man Booker in 2018, The Overstory is a brilliant and passionate book about humans and their relationship to trees and the natural environment. - Read more   Documentaries/Films  Mission Blue | Sylvia Earle Feature documentary about legendary oceanographer, marine biologist, environmentalist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle , and her campaign to create a global network of protected marine sanctuaries. Watch now on Netflix   Podcast   The Regenerative Journey | Charlie Arnott The Regenerative Journey podcast is a must for anyone who is curious about regenerative agriculture and the wide ranging and significant benefits of its adoption and practice, not just for farming communities but also for anyone who eats food and cares for the planet! Available on Spotify.   Current Coral Affairs Check out some of the latest news and research about our ocean:   After 20 years of research and lobbying efforts, the Marine Megafauna Foundation (MMF) is thrilled to announce a major legislative victory for ocean life in Mozambique. - Read more      Partying dolphins and rare sea slug among 2020 highlights in UK seas. - Read more     Researchers exploring the depths of the northern Great Barrier Reef have found a rare species of "walking" fish never before recorded in Australian waters. - Read more   Get with the Program Here's what we've got coming up in the next few weeks, keep checking the website for more updates.    Saturday, 30 January 2021: Clean-up for the Hatchlings Wednesday, 3 - 7 March 2021: Citizen Science & leadership workshop - Orpheus Island More exciting events are being planned for 2021....stay tuned and keep an eye on our socials & events pages to keep up-to-date 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    
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Around the Reef - Reef Check Australia - December Update

December 10, 2020
Dear Friend of Reef Check Australia -  Hello Reef Check Australia members, volunteers, friends, supporters, partners, and all-round awesome humans. And just like that… it's December!  For a year that was full of surprises, it went surprisingly fast. Thanks for hanging around.  We appreciate it!  Following on from our last Action of the Month, we want to continue the ‘Re’ theme into our next Action of the Month for December; the season for giving.  A season for gratitude, support, appreciation, and togetherness. Let's be honest, It's not limited to this month, obviously, but it's a nice reminder of what Christmas is all about.  So as we move quickly into the silly season, we wish to reflect on what was accomplished as a team, and to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to each and every one of you, and give you a quick RE-cap of what we have been up to for the year that was 2020…. Covid hit us hard. Harder than we expected it could, however, the experience has allowed us to RE-flect and adapt, and has shown that together, as a community we are RE-silient, and that with all hands on deck, we can, do, and will continue to make a difference for our reefs and oceans.This year we RE-ally focused on developing new partnerships and nurturing existing connections with our volunteers, supporters, and staff, enabling us to expand our current activities, despite the overwhelming times that Covid has gifted us with.  We have taken time to RE-ach out, RE-flect, and RE-connect; with ourselves, with our teams, and with the world around us.  We have streamlined processes to allow us to continue with our vital reef health monitoring, training, and community engagement more effectively, which has, in turn, allowed us to increase our impact as a group, and as individuals, working together for a stronger planet. We conducted over 125 surveys during the year, an area spanning 50,000m2 of reef.  We ran and joined in more than 15 clean up activities within Queensland, pulling in more than a tonne of debris from above and below the water (combined).  We trained over 60 new volunteers in SCUBA and Ambassador training and manned over 35 stalls at a variety of events, whilst following all restrictions put in place due to covid.  This is all only made possible due to all of you.  So from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.  Thank you to old and new supporters, to our volunteers, to the friends, family, and coworkers that lent a hand, and to those who worked tirelessly to make sure we were able to complete tasks needed to be completed, and that they were completed safely. Thank you to the individuals and businesses who have come on board throughout the year.  We applaud your willingness to support your local reef charity and we thank you for your ongoing support in such a crazy time!This month's action of the month is all about giving.  Whether that be a kind word, a handwritten card, an anonymous gift, quality time with a friend, family, or stranger, or the gift of shared experiences. Be kind to those around you; the attendant helping you shop last minute, your friends family and neighbors, your coworkers.. everyone. You never know just how much the next person you smile at might need it. For our giving month, we wish to showcase some of the awesome brands, groups, businesses, and individuals working together to create a change in the world around us. So make sure to check out the recommendations from our staff and volunteers on their favourite things below, and on our social media channels. If you are looking for something a little different this year, think about giving an experience rather than a physical gift. We have some beautiful experiences and events to share, so make sure to check them out!If physical gifts are more your style, think about showing your appreciation of a fellow amazing human this year by going local.  Everyone is doing it tough.  How can we support as many locals as possible?  Let's support local businesses (wherever ‘local’ is for you!) this Christmas, and beyond.For some recommendations of local businesses, we like to support, check out this special SILLY SEASON edition of the Enews, the last for 2020!And once again, in case you missed it… THANK YOU. For your kindness, your support, your shares, your donations, and your awesomeness.  Now sit back, relax, and see you in the new year!  Wishing you a very Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year   from all the team at Reef Check Australia    This months email includes: Action of the Month: Embrace the Gift of Giving Coral Spawning on GBR Stewardship Report Launch Supporting Traditional Owners in the Whitsundays Have your say on EPA Getting to know our volunteers News from the Field Brain Food Current Coral Affairs Get With the Program Embrace the Gift of Giving Christmas carols are playing, Santa is popping up all over the place and the kids (and adults) are getting excited for that special day. So Reef Check Australia is making the whole of December a 'Month of Giving' and asking you to 'Embrace the Gift of Giving'. We have asked some of our lovely volunteers and staff for recommendations on local businesses that are doing great things, by creating products and experiences that are sustainable and environmentally friendly. It's 2020....it's been a huge year of change.....so let's do something different this year and shop with care and mindfulness.   Want to get yourself decked out in all your favorite Reef Check Australia gear this Christmas?  We have the PERFECT gift from Santa, for yourself and your loved ones- from Adopt a Reef, T-shirts, Books, REEFSearch Kits, and reusable coffee cups to stocking stuffers like Tote Bags and mask straps.  Oh, so many options!  Pop on over to the Sea Store for all your reef inspired needs! for something a little different... how about checking out our ADOPT A REEF program: Adopt a Reef Get your orders in by December 15th and we will make sure it is on its way to you for Christmas!!   Check out what else we came up with below;   Our first Christmas gift are these absolutely amazing Reef Check Australia Ocean Art Naomi cards! Sunshine Coast local Ocean Art Naomi has created these beautiful Christmas cards so you can help Save Our Reefs! These cards are a great way to support local and help spread the Reef Check Australia message! With all profits going directly to us to help #saveourreefs!! Head on over to Ocean Art Naomi   We are so stoked to introduce you to our second support local christmas ideas- Clayed Coral. Handcrafted on the Sunshine Coast this amazing reef inspired jewellery brand has been a HUGE support to Reef Check Australia the past year. Donating 10% of all profits to our cause, buying from Clayed Coral this Christmas is a great way to support a local business and #saveourreefs They will not only make you look fabulous but also feel fabulous! This beautiful, handcrafted, reef inspired, all round epic jewellery is the perfect little something for your friends and family members for Chrissy! Oh and did we mention they do sustainable shipping?! Head over to Clayed Coral to get your hands on a pair of these beautiful, sustainable earrings.   Lush Mala Beads have been a long term supporter of Reef Check Australia, and our most recent collaboration is for some mermaid malas! The Mermaid Mala was born from the acknowledgment that we are all connected to the planet and that what we do above the water directly affects what happens below it. Over 8 million tonnes of rubbish from our daily lives make its way into the ocean each and every year. Most of this will remain in the ocean, causing ingestion and entanglement issues for a myriad of animals. But a small portion of this debris will be removed. An even smaller portion will be recycled and given a second life. With an idea to truly turn trash into treasure, Reef Check Australia and Lush Mala Beads teamed up to celebrate the amazing underwater wonderland, and to support the action agents dedicated to understanding and protecting our precious reef resources by creating something truly unique and beautiful. The Mermaid Mala series is the result of this collaboration. For each item you purchase from the series, 20% of the profits will go to Reef Check Australia to further support on ground (and underwater!) efforts. Made from recycled glass beads, silk, sterling silver charms, and a whole lot of love, these gorgeous pieces won’t last long. So rise and shine. Embrace your inner mermaid and speak up for our oceans – and look damn good doing it. Want your own mermaid mala?  Head on over to Lush Mala Beads   We call it our Coastal Scrunchie and Stud pack and 20% is donated to Reef Check Australia. At Bloom Sustainable Reusable Beautiful we create sustainable scrunchies, using upcycled fabric instead of contributing to the mass production of new fabrics. By upcycling fabric we are able to give back to our community through making purchases at stores such as the Salvation Army, Lifeline and other recognised charity stores. We pride ourselves in collaborating with other small business and organisations here on the Coast to support and encourage one another. We have recently collaborated with Clayed Coral and the Coolum Surf woman of the year, Jessica Appel. Head over to Bloom Sustainable Lifestyle and check out our new range of scrunchies including Christmas stock.   Next, we want to share with you these absolutely gorgeous Australiana books! From Warragul, the whale and Tasman the turtle to Loretta lorikeet who wears high heels upon her feet, these stunning books are all about Fun, Friendship, and Discovery. 'Join a myriad of mischievous characters in the Bush, the Rainforest, the Desert, and the Oceans of Australia, in these beautifully illustrated adventures. The fun-filled rhyming stories have been favourites in young readers’ bookshelves for more than twenty years!' “Life’s an adventure from beginning to end, and is always more fun to share with a friend.” Happy reading! Check them out here: Simon Books.com   What does Christmas feel like to you? For some, it may be snow, hot choccies and a good warm blanket by the fire. For others (cough Australians cough) it's sipping on a beer by the beach, cranking up the barbie, and cooking up a Chrissy feed! Here at Reef Check Australia we know that if you don’t have a beer from Your Mates Brewing in your hand - you’re doing it all wrong!! Based on the Sunnycoast Your Mates Brewhouse sells epics beers with a simple vision in mind - mateship, inclusiveness, and sustainability. Your Mates Brewing has been a HUGE supporter of Reef Check Australia by lending out their space to us every month for our epic Beer Yoga Event. Make sure this Christmas you stock up on this epic beer made by epic people - supporting them supports us and many other organisations! P.s while you’re there grab a bite to eat - the food is just as good as the beer. They also have some epic merch! Check them out here Your Mates Brewhouse   Saltwater Eco Tours. Spoil your loved ones with a unique experience this Christmas with a Saltwater Eco Tours Cultural Tour &/or Sunset Tour! The crew at Saltwater Eco Tours have been friends and supporters of Reef Check Australia for a long time now, and we absolutely LOVE checking out their tours! Slowly gliding along the waters for a sunset and a story is a beautiful way to wind down and celebrate the day. We think a Saltwater Eco Tours experience is the perfect way to create memories, plus an opportunity to support a small, local business. Head on over to Saltwater Eco Tours to purchase a voucher or get in touch for more information.   Reef Check Australia will be celebrating the end of 2020 and the start of 2021 at THRIVE this year, as the charity of choice for this collaborative local event, designed to bring life, love and laughter to a very challenging year for all. Family friendly, and full of amazingness designed to ignite your senses, THRIVE invites everyone for an epic gathering of community with heartfelt sharing of Live Music, Dance, Yoga, Spoken Word Poetry, Comedy, Art, Kids Entertainment & Heaps More. Its been a big year for everybody and a massive change in our lifestyle overall. This new paradigm shift has allowed us to reflect on the things that we want to align with heading into the new year and the future. Its time to THRIVE!! Keen to join? Maximum of 500 tickets available, so get in quick! Head on over to: Thrive 2021 NYE Experience for full details, and for ticket links.   Have you ever wanted to look like a whale shark? Or a tiger shark? what about a swordfish? Well, here is your chance! For our VOLUNTEER PICK for Christmas and beyond, we want to share WATERLUST. Vibrant, environmentally responsible apparel that visually represents 11 (and growing) conservation topics, empowering you to use what you wear as a fun and functional science communication tool. For each design, they donate 10% of profits to leading research & education organisations and use their expert knowledge to guide behavioral change recommendations. We have been IN LOVE with Waterlust's items for years now, showcasing their super cool designs wherever we go. NOW YOU can fall in love too... Head on over to their website using this unique Reef Check Australia link: Waterlust Online And you too can look like the gorgeous marine critter you always wanted to be!   There are so many other groups that help out Reef Check Australia. Check them out on our Social media accounts to learn more.   Coral Spawning on GBR! One of our Reef Check Australia team was lucky enough to head to the Whitsundays last month, to take part in the collaborative Boast4Corals Project. A Great Barrier Reef Foundation-supported project as a part of the #ReefIslandsInitiative is underway. Working with the Australian Institute of Marine Science and Peter Harrison and the team from Southern Cross University, and so many local operators! Massive shout out to Ocean Rafting, Thundercats, and Tornado for coming out to learn all about the spawning, for the vessel support, and for being the A team for helping capture all these little babies! It was super exciting to be a part of this project, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity. Such a great team to be working with! Thanks to Science Under Sail and Kiarna for being the support vessel and my home for the duration of the trip! Make sure to check out our film recommendation in the 'Brain Food' section below to watch ABC's live stream coral spawning event (Reef Live) direct from the GBR this year.     Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership | Stewardship Report Launch, Mackay Reef Check Australia and Reef Ecologic partners The Mackay-Whitsunday-Isaac Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership (HR2RP) recently launched their stewardship report celebrating sustainability initiatives and stories of stewardship enacted in the Mackay, Isaac, and Whitsunday region. This report features organisations, individuals, local businesses, and community organisations with the aim to improve our environment, and importantly, our communities' waterway health. A number of Reef Check Australia Ambassadors and Surveyors and Reef Ecologic staff feature in some fantastic projects highlighted in this report so you can check it out free online at Healthy Rivers to Reef. We look forward to continuing our collaboration and partnership with the Healthy Rivers to Reef team in the GBR region!   Reef Check & Reef Ecologic Supporting Traditional Owners in the Whitsundays Traditional Owners along the Queensland coast possess important sea-country connections with the Great Barrier Reef. With a history spanning thousands of years, many Traditional Owners hold knowledge and wisdom about how we can best live sustainably with our natural environments. As part of our Citizen Science Project, Reef Check Australia is working with Ngaro Traditional Owners to help improve and revitalise some of those sea-country connections. Australia's history and treatment of some Aboriginal groups forced many off their land resulting in a broken bond with their ‘country’. Recently, two Ngaro Traditional Owners from Bowen, Lynndel, and Milda Oui graduated as part of the Reef Check Australia Ambassador program. In this program community members learn about the Reef, threats to it, and ways we can all help support its ongoing health and resilience. As part of the program, graduates are expected and encouraged to lead and drive environmental initiatives and raise awareness in their community. As part of the training, Lynndel and Milda joined RCA on a 3 day trip in the Whitsunday Islands learning a range of citizen science activities. “The first time we traveled out ‘on-country’, I did get emotional,” Lynndel said.”It was a special feeling for me. Being in the water, just to look at the reef, the damage that has been done, and to see new life that is settling there. That was really exciting. I am walking away knowing a lot more about [the reef]. I definitely want to come back”. During the three days, Lynndel and Milda learned about different citizen science methods and techniques including Eye on the Reef Rapid monitoring survey methods, CoralWatch Coral Health surveys, and the Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef’s Great Reef Census. All this data feeds into respective databases to help management know about and protect our marine environment. Recently, Lynndel’s daughter Milda, a 15-year-old student from Bowen High School joined another expedition with project partner Reef Ecologic to undertake some monitoring and maintenance of their active reef restoration and helped restock their coral nurseries at two locations in the Whitsundays. “This trip was great because I recently became a Reef Check Ambassador and took a trip out on-country in the Whitsundays. On this trip it was great to learn about different methods to help protect our oceans” Milda said. “The best part about this trip has been being in the water because I love the ocean. I just want to stay there. I really enjoyed helping to put the corals in the discs and the ropes as part of the restoration activities to make coral nurseries and I look forward to sharing some of my experience with my family and friends when I get home” The hope is that by supporting local Traditional Owners to develop stronger sea-country connections and learn techniques to monitor marine habitats, they may be able to play a more active role in managing these important environments.   The Reef Check Australia Whitsundays Citizen Science Project is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation   Have YOUR say on Expanded Polystyrene (EPA) Head over to haveyoursay.des.qld.gov.au and let the Qld government know whether expanded polystyrene containers and cups should also be banned along with other single-use plastics. These products break down into tiny bits that float around on the surface of the ocean and look like food for plankton feeders. Like other plastics, these are ingested by and cause harm to marine life. We need everyone to say YES, include them in the single-use plastic ban. The environment will thank you. Survey available till Friday 15th January 2021, so get in quick.   Getting to Know our Volunteers at Reef Check Australia | Elly Pratt Elly Pratt works for Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership ''I grew up on a farm in rural South Australia and have been back and forward between QLD and SA since. I have a Bachelor of Science (Marine Biology Honours) with a PhD in dolphin genomics. I now work for the Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership in the Whitsundays as the marine technical officer, helping to produce an annual report card on the health of the reef and local waterways. The RCA training weekend was an incredible opportunity to meet other locals that are passionate about the Reef and its protection. It was inspiring to hear about all of the volunteer work that people are involved in and gave me hope for the Reef’s future. It was also great to refresh my coral species ID knowledge that I have let slip over the last few years, and a wonderful excuse to get out diving on the Reef. As I was on the trip representing the Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership, I also found that I learned a great deal about Reef Check Australia and their methods, which has inspired me to be a stronger advocate for citizen science in the NRM sphere.   Where are you from? Originally rural South Australia, now living in Airlie Beach, QLD. What motivated you to join our team? I wanted to learn more about the Reef Check data collection methods and citizen science generally (as I was admittedly, previously a bit of a cit sci skeptic). I can now use this knowledge to advocate for the use of Reef Check (and other cit sci) data in our report card. What project are you planning on focusing on?  I’m hoping to stay involved in Reef Check events around the Whitsundays and Townsville including clean ups and surveys, as well as advocating for Reef Check in my industry. What animal do you think best represents you? A bear - generous and protective (according to an online quiz).  Night owl or early bird? Early bird - but only recently. Flying or invisibility? Flying. Favourite food? Mango - 99% of the reason I moved back to NQ Favourite Marine animal?  Orca - absolutely incredible intellect  Thanks Elly for being an important part of Reef Check Australia.     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   Surveys at Narrowneck Artificial Reef, and Wavebreak Island After receiving notice of a sudden improvement in conditions, a small team jumped at the chance to head out to Narrowneck Artificial Reef and Wavebreak Island to undertake some surveys. The site at Narrowneck is shallow and very close to the surf zone, so a small swell (or zero) is required for this site. The artificial reef supports an interesting diversity of algae and sponges and is very popular with Black Feather Stars. It was also home to several wobbegong sharks and one really interesting sea star in a hurry transiting the seafloor. Whilst waiting for the other divers on the boat we were treated to a visit by a pod of playful dolphins, making the day even more awesome. We headed back into the seaway just before the winds increased and completed our survey at Wavebreak Island. This site is rock scree with scattered sponges and although the current was still a bit challenging we did find several nudibranchs, filefish, and a moray eel, with some very curious bream back at the start of the transect.   Our thanks to Gold Coast City Council and Gold Coast Dive Adventures for making these surveys possible.   Clean Up | Bulcock Beach, Caloundra Last month a group of Reef Checkers undertook a clean-up dive along the Bulcock Beach Esplanade at Caloundra. The day was a gorgeous clear and sunny day, and the team met up nice and early to beat the crowds getting ready for a long weekend. As the team enjoyed the lovely warming sunshine, Julie gave a thorough but very informative dive brief. The diving team of Julie, Jodi, Chris, Tany, and I headed down the handful of steps for an easy entry into the flat, calm waters, with Terry (on surface-watch and PR duties) strolling along the Esplanade above, and a lovely member of the first aid team from Sunshine Coast First Aid Volunteers was there to make sure we enjoyed a safe start to the long weekend. The team collected rubbish down the length of the 100m transect line, collecting a selection of fishing debris, and land-based items including a brand new iPhone! All in all a lovely, relaxing, and productive dive, and certainly one that all could join in and feel that they made a worthwhile contribution. Massive thank you to my fellow divers, to the fishermen and passersby for their interest and care in what we were doing, to Julie for organising the event, and to Terry for keeping an eye on us. Big congrats to Chris for the completion of his Marine Science degree (awesome!) and Tany for completing her first Reef Check survey dive! And Jodi- nice dive knife! Written By Peter Nicholls, RCA Scuba surveyor.   This project is funded by Healthy Land and Water (HLW) through the Australian Government National Landcare Program.   Reef Check Australia at Wynnum Fringe Festival Brendan and Marzia joined forces last month to attend the Wynnum Fringe Festival. This is what Marzia, RCA SCUBA volunteer had to say! 'It was great connecting with our local community and to collaborate with OzFish to educate and raise awareness about how awesome Moreton Bay is, and to showcase the oh so many groups working to preserve/restore its biodiversity'.      North Queensland Tangaroa Blue ReefClean at Fitzroy Island The team from Reef Check Australia took to the shores of Fitzroy Island offshore from Cairns in Far North Queensland as part of our collaboration with Tangaroa Blue's ReefClean project. GBR Coordinator Nathan Cook, Reef Check Surveyors Mila Grinblat and Jules Lim were joined by new RCA ambassador Romy Levin for an underwater and a beach clean up on the beautiful continental island. The team conducted one underwater clean up focusing on areas under boat moorings where rubbish is usually found. Glass bottles, clothes, and fishing line topped the list of items as well as a mask and snorkel (not surprising) and a rug. Sometimes the team decided to leave some rubbish behind because it was either too heavy or, like the breeze block we found, it had marine life growing on it. We complemented the underwater clean up with a land-based clean up along Welcome Bay. Here the team was joined by the Activities Coordinator from Fitzroy Island, Rowena Johnson. All up we collected around 20kgs of trash underwater and another 3 kgs of rubbish along the beach.   The Reefclean project is funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and delivered by Tangaroa Blue Foundation and a number of partner organisations including Reef Check Australia   Heron Island | Clean up Activities Last month Reef Check Australia teams had the opportunity to visit Heron Island, approximately 80km off the coast of Gladstone. A total of 17 underwater impact surveys were conducted along with an island-wide beach clean-up and an additional sweep for discarded researcher debris in the designated research zone of the island. We were assisted by an enthusiastic team of volunteers and guests from the resort and research station ranging from Cooktown to Toowoomba. The team also conducted a source reduction seminar on marine debris, common items found on the island (microplastics), how this can affect resident birds and turtles, and what people can do to reduce their reliance on and use of plastic. Similar to previous years the team found low levels of marine debris (yay!) but noticed some microplastics along the beach in addition to old and no longer utilised research equipment. We also found a dislodged and washed up shark tag logger used by scientists to collect valuable information about the movement patterns of friendly local sharks. This was returned to the research station staff to reinstall and initial stages to remove old researcher debris have been implemented.   These clean-ups were part of the Reef Clean project, funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and delivered by Tangaroa Blue Foundation and a number of partner organisations including Reef Check Australia.   Offshore Townsville | Surveys Winds finally abated along the Queensland coast allowing our team of volunteers to head to one of our favourite survey sites. John Brewer Reef, 50NM offshore from Townsville is one of the best reefs our team has dived at. Home to the recently installed Museum of Underwater Art, Reef Check Australia has two permanent transects on the adjacent reef. Volunteers Maddy Hunt and trainee Ingrid Nashwitz joined GBR Coordinator Nathan Cook for two surveys at the site. Dominated by plating and branching Acropoorid spp corals the site is a wonderful representation of a healthy reef. At least on the reef flat. Disturbances from crown-of-thorns starfish have compromised its health deeper and at other locations across John Brewer highlighting the diversity that exists across the GBR. The team completed Reef Check Surveys, 6 GBRMPA Reef Health and Impact Surveys and, 2 CoralWatch coral health surveys, and one Great Barrier Reef Census survey in partnership with the Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef.   These surveys were completed as part of Reef Ecologic’s Integrated Coral Reef Citizen Science Program is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. Read more at ReefEcologic.     Brain Food Reviews and details on books, documentaries, and podcasts that we have come across, & wanted to share. Books   Follow the Moon Home | By Philippe Cousteau & Deborah Hopkinson | (A Children's book) A triumphant story of environmental activism, community, and friendship: Acclaimed activist Philippe Cousteau and renowned author Deborah Hopkinson team up to offer a story of the powerful difference young people can make in the world. Meet Viv, who has a new home and a new school by the sea, and follow her as she finds her way in a new place and helps bring together a whole community to save the sea turtles of the South Carolina coast.   Documentaries/Films  Reef Live | ABC iView In a recent live event from the Great Barrier Reef, witness one of the world's greatest natural spectacles - the annual phenomenon of the majestic mass coral spawn. Hosted by Hamish Macdonald, Brooke Satchwell and Dr Jordan Nguyen. Watch now on ABC iView   Podcast   Dare to Lead | Brene Brown Conversations with change-catalysts, culture-shifters, and more than a few troublemakers who are innovating, creating and daring to lead. A really great podcast to check out. Available on Spotify.   Current Coral Affairs Check out some of the latest news and research about our ocean:   Great Barrier Reef's world-first coral IVF gets help from the Whitsunday tourism industry. - Read more      Scientists have captured rare footage of a teeny, tiny squid swimming near the Great Barrier Reef - Read more     Great Barrier Reef Legacy is working with Traditional Owners, industry and corporate partners, research collaborators, government organisations, and tourism operators, to establish the world's first Living Coral Biobank - Read more   Get with the Program Here's what we've got coming up in the next few weeks, keep checking the website for more updates.    Friday, 11 December 2020: Yoga Under The Sea  Thursday, 31 December 2020: Thrive 2021 NYE Experience Saturday, 30 January 2021: SAVE THE DATE | Clean-up for the Hatchlings  More exciting events are being planned for 2021....stay tuned and keep an eye on our socials & events pages to keep up-to-date 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 © 2020 Reef Check Australia, All rights reserved.
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Around the Reef - Reef Check Australia - November Update

November 10, 2020
Dear friend -  Welcome to the November Edition of 'Around the Reef'. Things have been getting exciting at Reef Check Australia. We have been working hard on new ways to help save the reef in these trying times. Our team has been out and about getting the word out and keeping an eye on the reef. New friends and volunteers have joined and we are excitedly cruising into the festive season. Check out our events section to see what we will be getting up to over the next few weeks. Action of the Month: A Month of 'Re's'  Mooloolah River Cruise Beer Yoga with Reef Check Austalia Crafternoon Catch-up Getting to know our volunteers News from the Field Brain Food Current Coral Affairs Get With the Program A Month of 'Re's' This month’s action is all about the ‘RE’. What the heck does that mean I hear you say. Well, it's National Recycling Week this week, and in the spirit of the 3 RE’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) we wanted to take a closer look at all the ‘RE’s’ we could think of and see how we might RE-align ourselves with the very best version of ourselves, for the sake of the planet as a whole. This month's action of the month is to RE-duce any negative habits we might have slipped into during the year, and to RE-introduce good habits. They can be big or small. It's up to you how much you want to get RE-al about. We think we could all RE-pair more items where possible, RE-duce our consumption of single-use items, RE-use and RE-purpose what we can, and RE-cycle whatever is leftover (hopefully not much!). While we are at it, let's take a moment to RE-flect on the positive things that have come out of the year so far (keep that #attitudeofgratitude going!), despite being a particularly tough year for everyone, and make sure to take some time out to RE-fill your cup. Self-care is important. So RE-lax. RE-set. RE-charge and RE-juvenate, so you can be ready for the silly season. And let's RE-ach out and RE-connect with loved ones, even if you can't physically be close. Write a good old fashioned letter, and post it (we can RE-commend a great set of marine-based cards here). Let's RE-think about what we RE-ally need in life, stay safe, and RE-remember that we are all in this together.   One of our Ambassadors showing an example of how we can RE-pair something that still has a lot of life in it.      Check out a few of our local heroes who are also doing the 'Re' Action. If you are looking for some beautiful gifts and a way to help support Reef Check Australia at the same time, Just click on their links below:                 Let's go for a cruise on the Mooloolah River For those of you who have not heard of Saltwater Eco Tours yet, make sure you add this local adventure one to check out. Business Owner and operator, Simon Thornalley had this to say of the launch of his new company:"I am honoured and proud to launch a business that encompasses my passion for culture, as well as maritime history and sailing. Sustainable tourism plays a crucial role in today's society and in the year of Indigenous tourism I am excited to launch Saltwater Eco Tours on the Sunshine Coast." The start of the school holidays saw the official launch of Saltwater Eco Tours, a new, highly anticipated, water-based, Indigenous visitor experience on the Sunshine Coast. Jumping onboard the ‘Spray of the Coral Coast’ we learned all about her history, mixed in amongst Gubbi Gubbi stories of the mountains that surround us. This beautiful vessel is the oldest known of her kind in Australia. Made in 1908, Captain Joshua Slocum, the first person to complete a solo circumnavigation around the globe aboard his vessel ‘Spray’, agreed to provide his yacht's blueprints to have a replica made. It was this replica that would see many owners and sail many seas, to eventually call the Sunshine Coast home. As we hopped on board this historical beauty, the sun was out, the sky was blue, and I was welcomed with lemon myrtle and mint water, fresh Mooloolaba prawns, and a delicious glass of bubbles. What a way to kick off the weekend! I was fortunate enough to join guests from along the South East Queensland coastline to jump on board for the official launch of this awesome new experience. The vessel moves silently through the waterways of Mooloolaba, silent except for the hilarious anecdotes and spins on stories, as told by Kerry Neil. What a beautiful way to see our backyard. To check out what tours they have coming up, check out their Facebook page. And stay tuned for a couple of awesome collaborations in the mix, with Reef Check Australia You can check out more here: Saltwater Eco Tours   This project has been proudly supported by Sunshine Coast Council’s grants program    Reef Check Australia Event: Beer Yoga   Our monthly beer yoga has been a real hit. So one of our fabulous Reef Check Ambassadors, Tara Humphries, has given us a rundown on just what beer yoga actually is. ''Woo hoo, beer yoga! After weeks of seeing the fun on social media, and the events selling out, I finally managed to grab myself a ticket to Beer Yoga at the Brewhouse. It was my first beer yoga event and I thoroughly enjoyed it, I was impressed to see so many people showing up to raise money for a great cause such as Reef Check! Erin from Varsha Yoga lead us through an hour-long Vinyasa yoga class with awesome music and a really good happy vibe. There were quite a few giggles, as we all tried to master the delicate art of beer appreciation, mediation, and yoga. It was an absolute smashing yoga class filled with lovely people to have a laugh and a beer with. I cannot wait for the next one!'' Thanks so much to all involved, especially Erin, Varsha Yoga, Yourmates Brewery, Yourmates Brewhouse, and all the awesome humans who turned up for a great cause and a fun event! If you would like to be part of the next session, take a look at our event section below, and get in fast to get your ticket.   Crafternoon Catch-Up Part of being in the Reef Check Australia family is getting together to help out with other important tasks from time to time. Recently a group of us had lots of fun assembling our REEFSearch Field Kits; a cool underwater slate and field guide that suits any age, and that encourages a better understanding of what we are looking at when we are exploring our beautiful reefs. No matter what we are doing, either above or below the ocean, we always have a giggle catching up and it’s also a great way to exchange ideas with fellow reef checkers! Keen to get your hands on one of our freshly made REEFSearch Kits? Head on over to the SeaStore and grab one in time for the holidays!     Getting to Know our Volunteers at Reef Check Australia Here at RCA, we are all about our volunteers as they are the backbone of what we are all about. So we wanted to introduce you to some of these wonderful humans and find out what makes them tick, by asking a few questions. This month we have been chatting with Amber.  Where are you from? Originally from chilly Melbourne but moved to Queensland when I was a kid ... and the rest is history! Well, not quite. I now live in West End, Brisbane, only a few blocks from Reef Check!! What motivated you to join our team? I’ve been wanting to join the team for so long! I am obsessed with Reef Check’s Coast to Coral talks and I also have some great friends who are ambassadors and surveyors. I really wanted to take my surveying skills to the next level and join my friends on upcoming SEQ surveys. What project are you planning on focusing on? I can't wait to put my Reef Check training into practice as soon as possible and undertake some SEQ surveys. I’ve also signed up for the Mooloolaba Ecological Assessment and Mapping (MEAM) Project, so fingers crossed I get to be a part of that. I’m keen to contribute as much as I can to citizen science projects, including all the great work that CoralWatch does. I would love to get more involved with coral restoration projects and I want to continue engaging with the community about the impacts of climate change and what we can do for the future of our reefs. What animal do you think best represents you? As I’m creative, I would say the Japanese Pufferfish - the artist of the sea! They work tirelessly to create a masterpiece while fighting the elements. Sadly, I am nowhere near as talented as the little pufferfish!! Night owl or early bird? Early bird. Watching the sunrise is a beautiful way to start the day! Flying or invisibility? Definitely flying! But I’d need to practice my landing as I suspect I’d be like the Greatest American Hero. Yet another awesome 80s tv show!!! Favourite food? Mangoes! I wait all year for the taste of summer!! Favourite Marine animal? Jellyfish! They are absolutely fascinating. From the mesmerising light shows of the deep to the Benjamin Button immortal jellies who can reverse the aging process, jellies are incredible! Swimming in Jellyfish Lake in Palau surrounded by swarms of Moon and Golden jellies was like being in a magical wonderland! I never wanted to leave. Thanks Amber for being an important part of Reef Check Australia.     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   Outrigger Clean-up Dive We’re proud to say our volunteer SEQ coordinator Emily, completed her first RCA clean-up dive after completing her ReefCheck EcoDiver qualifications with us all the way back in March! Here’s Ems update on how the dive went… Cheers to my first official RCA clean-up dive! Reef Check has taken me to some pretty incredible local reef sites but it’s not all beautiful vis and great conditions…. Saturdays dive site was ingloriously, near shore, silty, shallow water. We turned up our patience and sifted along the bottom, unhooking lures and cutting through fishing line for a solid 70 minutes at a max depth of 2.7m at the Golden Beach boat ramp in Caloundra. We pulled a whopping 10kg of debris, around 1.5km of fishing line, 41 lures, along with straws, rope, bottles, sinkers, rings, and spearfishing spears… Researchers believe it will take around 600 years for monofilament fishing line to biodegrade in our oceans and it only took us 70 minutes to pick up 1.5km of it… It’s always confronting to find so much destruction in such a small area, but like the glass bottle below, it’s pretty incredible to see how nature adapts to our neglect! The chance to participate in clean up dives and make a difference to the local ocean area we love, make the good diving days, that much better! These are the kinds of community events with so much love and collaboration behind the scenes and with our ladies, Julie, Emily, Tania, and Jodi diving. We had Terry on surface watch and Elliot as our medic on stand by. Thanks to Bradys Fruit Barn in Palmwoods for supplying us with some onions bags! And importantly the team at Tangaroa Blue collecting the data through AMDI, working on solutions to stop litter at the source! If you want to get involved with one of RCA’s clean-ups, keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming events or join the mailing list to be notified!   This project is funded by Healthy Land and Water (HLW) through the Australian Government National Landcare Program.     Reef Check Australia at Moreton Kids Festival, Strathpine The annual Moreton Kids Festival was held again this year but under COVID safeguards at Pine River Park, Strathpine. 7,500 kids, parents, and grandparents turned up and were not disappointed. Just as soon as you walked through the ticket gates, you were in the “Green Kids World” which was one of the 5 worlds on a beautiful Sunday. Many families were turned away because of COVID limits placed on the one-day event. Danni, Gina, Jodi, and I, no doubt others pulled the event together for the day. A day before the Kids Fest, and at the last minute, I raced down to the local fabric shop and purchased 5 meters of green material and threaded and stitched the two halves together. This made for a great “Green Screen” and with my trusty iPad and a green screen app, we were all set for the day. The display table was set up and just as soon as the gates opened Gina was busy photographing! 60 photos were taken and shared: a MASSIVE achievement considering everything else that was going on at the same time. Big thanks to the UQ Marine Society who also lent a hand! In all, it was a great day and a great display by Reef Check Australia. Written by Colin Scobie, Reef Check Australia Ambassador.        North Queensland Reef Survey at Fitzroy Island The team from Reef Check Australia conducted a second Reef Check Reef Health survey at Welcome Bay on Fitzroy Island offshore from Cairns. GBR Coordinator Nathan Cook, Reef Check Surveyors Mila Grinblat, and Jules Lim completed surveys of fish, invertebrates, impacts, and the substrate. The visibility was great and the reef is looking in pretty good condition. With the water temperature heating up at 27 degrees we are hopeful that this summer remains relatively cool in light of the expected La-Nina conditions but will be keeping an eye on the weather as the New Year approaches. ReefClean | Beach & Underwater Cleanup Last month Tangaroa Blue hosted a ReefClean beach and underwater cleanup at Luncheon Bay, Hook Island in the Whitsundays region of the Great Barrier Reef. Whilst we were pleased to find no trash underwater despite our best efforts our team collected almost 5kg of trash from along the beach, 4 more kilograms than when we visited in May earlier this year. However, better out than in, we say! While we were in the area, we took the opportunity to conduct a number of Reef Check Australia, Coral Watch, and GBMPA’s Eye on the Reef surveys with our new cohort of reef ambassadors including the Oui’s, a local family of Traditional Owners and Ngaro people based in the Bowen region.   The ReefClean project is funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and delivered by Tangaroa Blue Foundation and a number of partner organisations including Reef Check Australia. HUGE Mununundo (Ngaro language for "Thank You") to James, Tyler, and the entire @oceanrafting team for the photos and for supporting our efforts to collect marine debris and all the data!   Whitsunday's Surveyor & Ambassador Liveaboard Training We've been incredibly busy up here in the Great Barrier Reef. Two weekends ago Reef Check Australia was lucky enough to head over to the Whitsundays with True Blue Sailing aboard New Horizon and 8 reef surveyor and 11 reef ambassador trainees. Reef Check Australia is all about citizen science so it was fantastic to have a wide range of saltlovers onboard learning about reef health monitoring and community education. We had Naro Traditional Owners, Marine science students, travelers, Townsvillians, local Whitsundays residents and even some from SE Qld join our tribe of salty ocean lovers. We conducted Reef Check Australia training, Coralwatch surveys, Eye on the Reef surveys, and can you believe we even fitted in some Great barrier reef census data. We also have 5 more thalassophiles that will be joining our team after a few more t's are crossed and i's are dotted. Here are our favourite quotes from the weekend: "My surveyor dives were some of the best dives I’ve ever done. It combined everything I love. A magical underwater wonderland, curiosity, and knowledge. Being able to study the reef in detail and discuss what I was looking at while underwater (using slates) was incredible. It was like floating in my own documentary. I loved it!! And I learnt so much!!!" - Amber, Coral Watch Ambassador, and Reef Check Australia Surveyor. "I felt incredibly inspired and so thankful to have connected with a group of amazing reef advocates, the best part of the experience for me was meeting a great group of like-minded individuals, learning about everyone's backgrounds, and seeing how people from such different walks of life can come together with a common passion and goal. The ability to make a positive change is enhanced when you can bring together a group like the RC ambassadors and surveyors." - Arnikah, Reef Check Australia Ambassador, and Reef Ecologic Intern. "If sailing the Whitsundays with a group of diverse, knowledgeable and super fun people learning all about coral reefs, monitoring their health and generally having an awesome time wasn’t enough - spending evenings under millions of stars, watching dolphins and sharks feed around the boat was beyond incredible! I’ve come away with new friends, mentors, and a serious drive to protect our oceans and everything in them." - Romy, Reef Check Australia Ambassador. Congratulations to our new team members, and make sure you keep a lookout for some great new projects and events in this area of our beautiful GBR and even SE Qld!   The Reef Check Australia Whitsundays Citizen Science Project is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. Thank you also to TrueBlue Sailing for hosting us and Aquadive for supporting our team with gear.      Brain Food Reviews and details on books, documentaries, and podcasts that we have come across, & wanted to share. Books   Narwhals: Arctic Whales in a Melting World Among all the large whales on Earth, the most unusual and least studied is the narwhal, the northernmost whale on the planet, and the one most threatened by global warming. Narwhals thrive in the fjords and inlets of northern Canada and Greenland. These elusive whales, whose long tusks were the stuff of medieval European myths and Inuit legends, are uniquely adapted to the Arctic ecosystem and are able to dive below thick sheets of ice to depths of up to 1,500 meters in search of their prey-halibut, cod, and squid. Documentaries/Films  David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet Celebrated British naturalist Sir David Attenborough has a broadcasting career spanning over six decades. He has visited every continent on the globe, exploring the wild places of our planet and bringing the wonders of the living world to audiences worldwide through ground-breaking natural history series. His work includes Life on Earth, Planet Earth, and more recently the Netflix original documentary series Our Planet. Streaming now on Netflix Podcast   Science Vs Science Vs takes on fads, trends, and the opinionated mob to find out what’s fact, what’s not, and what’s somewhere in between. A really great podcast to check out. Available on most platforms and online here.   Current Coral Affairs Check out some of the latest news and research about our ocean:    Our Oceans Are Capturing More Carbon Than Expected – Underestimated by Up to 900,000,000 Metric Tons of Carbon per year. - Read more    'Detached' reef bigger than Empire State building discovered in 500 meters of water off Queensland - Read more    The  Arctic and Antarctic Sea Ice: How Are They Different? -  Read more   Get with the Program Here's what we've got coming up in the next few weeks, keep checking the website for more updates.    Tuesday, 10 November 2020: Coast to Coral | The World's Largest Fish! Whale Sharks & how Citizen Science can Help. Monday, 30 November 2020: Beer Yoga at the Brewhouse Friday, 11 December 2020: Yoga Under The Sea  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 © 2020 Reef Check Australia, All rights reserved.Our mailing address is: Reef Check Australia1/377 Montague RdWest End, QLD 4101Australia
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Reef-Safe Sunscreen

August 25, 2020
Reef-Safe Sunscreen - ☀️ How to Protect Yourself and the Reef   By Lisa Goldenberg, Reef Check Australia Ambassador Freediver ● Ocean lover ● Coffee drinker   We get to the beach, Slip! Slop! Slap!, and off we go. But what are we actually slopping on? Is it good for us? Is it good for the reef? Perhaps you’re a weekend snorkeler or maybe an avid Reef Check surveyor. Maybe, like us, you marvel at the colours and shapes of the coral, stare in wonder at their vibrant forms and hues, become mesmerized by the fish swimming by too dazzling to believe. The stunning vast blue. The mystical depths that lure us to play and explore. As ocean lovers, we want to enjoy the ocean responsibly. We don’t use single-use plastic, we don’t stand on or kick the coral, and we don’t want to leave a trail of harmful sunscreen in our wake. While Queensland is home to the most beautiful reefs in the world, we are also known as the skin-cancer capital of the world. As we dive into the ocean and work to protect the reefs, we must also protect ourselves from the sun. Sunscreens work by providing either a physical barrier or a chemical barrier from the sun’s harmful rays. In order for a reef to work, corals need access to the rays we are shielding ourselves from. Along with warm temperature, clean and clear saltwater, corals need sunlight to survive. As we swim along enjoying the reef, it is estimated we leave behind up to 14,000 tons of sunscreen annually. This not only harms marine life but also covers the most popular reefs in tourist parks with a sunscreen sheen, blocking the sun from getting to the coral below. And even in extremely low concentrations, it’s been shown that sunscreens can cause rapid and complete bleaching of hard corals. Image by Everyday California Some marine parks, like Cozumel in Mexico, ban sunscreen outright. In those instances, a stinger suit or SPF rashie is your best bet. They cover and protect you while causing no harm to the reef. But usually, sunscreen is a must. And while no sunscreen is completely safe for coral and marine life, there are choices we can make to protect ourselves while minimizing the harm to the reef. When choosing a sunscreen, ignore the marketing and sustainable-looking packaging.  Be wary of labels that claim the product is “reef safe,” because the question is: safe for whom? The term “reef safe” doesn’t have an agreed-upon definition, and isn’t strictly regulated by the government. And of course, companies that sell sunscreen are in the business of selling sunscreen. And while the Cancer Council of Queensland recommends the use of water-resistant sunscreens with SPF 30 or higher, they don’t concern themselves with whether the sunscreen’s ingredients are harmful to the reef - or to our skin. As reef lovers, it’s our responsibility to choose our sunscreen carefully. We must check the ingredients and look for ingredients that are safe - for both us and the reef. Here’s what to avoid and what to look for: Avoid: 🚫 Oxybenzone (also known as benzophenone-3) and octinoxate (also known as octyl methoxycinnamate). These chemicals have been proven to harm marine life and coral reefs and have been linked to hormone disruption, cell damage, and allergic reactions. In January, Palau became the first country to ban these chemicals. They are also banned in Hawaii, and several other tropical regions throughout the world. (Perhaps Queensland should do the same?) 🚫 Nanoparticles are so small they can enter our bloodstream. They are also absorbed by coral. They cause oxidative stress that may lead to cell damage, genotoxic effects, inflammatory responses, and changes in cell structure. 🚫 Parabens (Butylparaben, Methylparaben, and Propylparaben) are harmful to the reefs and have been found to act as endocrine disruptors. 🚫 Cinnamates (Octyl methoxycinnamate and Cinoxate) have been shown to negatively impact coral reefs. Look for: ✅ Zinc oxide and/or Titanium dioxide sunscreens are mineral sunscreens. These physically block the sun’s rays and have not been shown harmful to the reefs. They are biodegradable and hypo-allergenic. ✅ “Non-nano” refers to particles larger than 100 nanometers and is considered safe for us and the reef. ✅ Water-resistant sunscreen helps keep the product on your skin and not wash off in the water. ✅ Wait at least 15 minutes after applying your sunscreen before entering the water so that your skin can absorb it and it won’t wash right off.   It’s our responsibility to do what we can to safeguard the health of the reefs that we love. How we act in the water and the products we introduce to it are our opportunity to do just that.  What are your favorite sunscreens? Let us know what you recommend!  
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Be an Ocean Action Agent | DIY Beeswax Wraps

August 11, 2020
Have you heard of beeswax wraps??? They are all the rage right now! Beeswax wraps are fun, easy to make and a great eco friendly alternative to plastic cling wrap. Check out our new DIY beeswax wrap poster guide to get your hands (slightly) dirty and make some of your own! For more plastic free tips checkout our online resources here  Thank you to Townsville City Council and our awesome volunteers for supporting this new resource!
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Low Isles Tangaroa Blue ReefCleen Event May 2020

June 16, 2020
Low Isles in the Port Douglas region of the Great Barrier Reef is truly spectacular. On a cool winters day in the shadow of Covid19 the scene was quiet, however the reefs are looking spectacular demonstrating strong recovery from the bleaching that severely affected it three years ago. There were minimal signs of bleaching impacts in 2020 however. Thank you to Wavelength Reef Cruises for hosting us out on the reef and assisting us in completing our work. Reef Check Australia were on site as part of the Tangaroa Blue ReefClean event. We conducted an underwater clean up at the site and thankfully found very little rubbish. A few masks and snorkels under where the tourist boats would normally park but generally pretty clean. I can’t help but wonder if the lack of tourists currently on site had an affect on the low level of rubbish we found. The ReefClean project is funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and delivered by Tangaroa Blue Foundation and a number of partner organisations including Reef Check Australia       
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