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Whether it’s media releases, catching up on our newsletters or finding out the latest news from the field, there’s plenty of information here for you!

Whitsundays Citizen Science Project Interim Report April 2020

May 06, 2020
Since April 2019 Reef Check Australia has been engaging and empowering the local Whitsundays community through the Whitsundays Citizen Science Project. RCA’s interim report summarises the project activities in the region. Highlights include the completion of 49 coral reef health surveys using Reef Check Australia, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Eye on the Reef and CoralWatch coral health surveys to record data from 8 sites in the Whitsundays. New Ambassadors were trained and new surveyors have joined our team of dedicated volunteers to continue to collect high quality scientific data from the region.  “Inspiring the local community in the protection and preservation of their local reefs is crucial to developing Reef resilience. The more people who care about the Reef the more actions they will take in their everyday lives to protect it." One of the highlights has been extensive engagement and involvement of traditional owners in the selection of new survey sites around Whitsunday island. We hope they will be an integral part of our ongoing reef monitoring activities in the second half of the project. Download the full Whitsundays Citizen Science Summary report HERE. For more details contact Nathan Cook on nathan@reefcheckaustralia.org      
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Orpheus Island Reefs Fare Well, Despite Recent Temperature Spikes

May 05, 2020
The Reef Check Australia team, in partnership with Townsville based marine consultancy, Reef Ecologic, conducted reef health surveys around Orpheus Island at the start of April 2020. Calm weather and sunny skies greeted us during weekend surveys in the Palm Island Group. The team, consisting of Reef Check GBR coordinators Nathan Cook and Jenni Calcraft, volunteer Adriana Campili and Reef Ecologic Director Dr Adam Smith surveyed 5 sites around Orpheus, Pelorus and Fantome Islands to assess the health of the Reef as part of Reef Ecologic’s Integrated Coral Reef Citizen Science Program. Signs of reef stress were evident, but we anticipate a strong recovery of those corals impacted by the warm ocean temperatures experienced in parts of the Great Barrier Reef through February and March 2020. Results from all of Reef Check Australia's surveys will be published in a regional annual report at the end of the financial year. The Integrated Coral Reef Citizen Science Program is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.  
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Whitsunday Reef Surveyor Training

April 13, 2020
The first Reef Check Australia Reef Survey Course for 2020 was held in the Whitsundays region in early March. We had 4 passionate participants who were excited to be joining the Reef Check Australia team. Over the course of the weekend we visited Hardy Reef as part of the training activities, where we also conducted some Reef Health Surveys.    We had great support from our delivery partners, Cruise Whitsundays and the Coral Sea Marina Resort. During the weekend, we had Ngaro traditional owners participate in the weekends activities learning about Reef monitoring and how we provide information to management about the health of the Reef and what we can all do to support its ongoing resilience. Thank you to those who attended the training, we are thrilled to have you on the Reef Check Australia team!  If you are interested in getting involved with Reef Check Australia and any of our activities, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the team to find our when the next rounds of training will be.  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.  
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Whitsunday Surveys

April 13, 2020
In March, Reef Check Australia conducted reef health surveys at offshore and inshore reefs of the Whitsundays region in North Queensland. Surveys revealed that Hardy Reef was in fairly good condition, but is currently experiencing substantial coral bleaching. Prevailing wind and recent rains are helping cool surface waters and we are confident that this will assist the immediate recovery of stressed corals at Hardy Reef. The next few weeks of weather, will be critical for the health and resilience of Hardy Reef and surrounding reefs. For more information on current reef health see regular updates at http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/the-reef/reef-health These surveys were conducted as part of the The Reef Check Australia Whitsundays Citizen Science Project , funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.
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Magnetic Island Report 2019

April 13, 2020
In 2019, Reef Check Australia volunteer survey teams visited six sites across three locations at Magnetic Island as part of annual reef health assessments. Reef Check Australia survey teams are part of a worldwide network of trained volunteers that regularly monitor and report on reef health in more than 90 countries using a standardized scientific survey method. The goal of Reef Check monitoring is to determine broad-scale trends of how our reefs are changing over time on both local and global scales. Surveys at Magnetic Island highlighted that average hard coral cover for sites surveyed in 2019 was assessed at 34% with coral cover ranging from 8-71%. Other findings include low levels of coral disease, bleaching and predators such as Drupella or crown-of-thorns starfish (acanthaster planci). RCA data can be provided to scientists and managers as an early warning system to supplement other monitoring programs that document changes and disturbances on the reef.  The report also summarises community engagement and stewardship activities undertaken to inform the local community and encourage behavioural change activities to continue to support Reef health through everyday actions.  Download the full Magnetic Island summary report here.
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Traditional Owners Engage in Citizen Science in the Whitsundays

April 07, 2020
Over the past few months Reef Check Australia have been working with and consulting Traditional Owners in the Whitsundays region to increase their involvement in monitoring and management of culturally significant sites and species. In March, Ngaro traditional owners Adrena Pryor and Kurtis Dow joined Reef Check Australia in surveyor training, and reef monitoring at both inshore and offshore sites in the Whitsundays region. Both Adrena and Kurtis learned about reef monitoring and what it takes to collect reef health data. They shared stories of traditional owner sea-country connections and provided advice on new monitoring sites that provide cultural relevance completing spatial coverage in the Whitsundays region. In the coming months we will begin monitoring these new sites, hopefully in partnership with the Ngaro traditional owners in the region.   This consultative work is an integral part of 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. This project is being conducted in partnership with Reef Catchments and Reef Ecologic.
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