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REEFSearch Update!

August 21, 2018
Attention wannabe reef protectors! Did you know there is a way you can help monitor our reefs in your spare time? Reef Check Australia's current team of over 150 incredible REEFSearchers have been out and about gathering vital information on their local reefs.  We think that's pretty awesome, so we want to tell you about it and let you know how you can join them. A total of 494 surveys have so far been completed at more than 100 sites, from all around Australia!  There have been soooo many new sites with information uploaded via the REEFSearch Hub, including Byron Bay, Hervey Bay, Lady Elliot Island,  Moreton Bay, Torquay Victoria and Ningaloo Reef.                                  The hard work of our REEFSearchers is so important in the battle to protect our reefs and oceans. Their contributions help us see what they're seeing at more locations, more regularly. What amazing work!  A big round of applause for each and every one of our existing REEFSearchers. And if you've been inspired, why not sign up as a REEFSearcher today! 
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Thanks for an amazing 9 years!

August 13, 2018
I started with Reef Check Australia as a volunteer back in 2008. Never then would I have guessed that I would be leading this incredible organisation. It has been such an amazing journey. Now it's time for the next adventure and I am moving on to a new role.  Over the past nine years, we’ve expanded and worked with partners to grow an incredible subtropical reef monitoring program in South East Queensland, building a one-of-a-kind reef health data set across the region. We went West, working with local partners to build the foundation for a program for Ningaloo Reef and we’ve continued to collect globally-relevant data on the largest living structure on earth, the Great Barrier Reef. Our team has launched programs like REEFSearch to build new pathways for people to get involved in learning about and checking up on reefs. We worked together with dedicated ocean action agents and social research partners, to build the Reef Ambassador community outreach program.  Launching and growing this program to help support every day heroes has given me an overwhelming sense of hope by combining citizen science with action.  And we've helped do some great work for the reef, mapping inshore reefs of Moreton Bay for the first time in a decade, teaming up to tackle marine debris, looking at ways to apply Reef Check methods to reef restoration, exploring new data applications such as report cards, and collaborating on initiatives like the nomination of the Moreton Bay Hope Spot to highlight critical marine environments and the people who fight for them on a global stage. This almost decade-long has been made possible and downright enjoyable because of our dedicated team of staff, board and volunteers, who never cease to amaze me with their generosity, big brains and MacGyver skills. It has been a privilege to work alongside every one of them. Special thanks to Jody Kreuger, our volunteer dive officer and trainer, and the most amazing supporter I could ever ask to be with on this journey. For me, Reef Check is a powerful blend of science, education and community-based conservation. And it’s a time when we need this combination more than ever. We know we have a window to build reef resilience now and act on climate change to protect reefs for the future. And we know we need a movement of people who care to help make it happen. I’m thrilled about what’s to come for Reef Check. There are some excellent plans in the works that will be rolling out soon: We are in the final stages of a seriously epic new database, boosting how we manage and share data, as well as making it easier for our amazing volunteers to coordinate their involvement. Thank you Josh Passenger, database volunteer extraordinaire for this incredible gift.  We’ve recently been awarded funding to move all of our volunteer training online, boosting options for engagement and streamlining our Ambassador and Reef Surveyor training materials We are continuing to explore new ways to apply the Reef Check methods through habitat mapping, restoration applications, photo transects and new indicators Our Ambassador programs are taking off at an incredible pace. More than 80 trained outreach volunteers are doing inspirational work in Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Townsville. Stay tuned - thanks to the dedication of these community leaders, the positive impact is only going to grow. So although my role may be changing, I am looking forward to contributing as part of the dedicated Science Committee working on some exciting papers, lending a hand with our superstar Brisbane Ambassador crew, and being a loud advocate for the important role of citizen science and community action in looking after the reef. Citizen science makes so much possible. Its growth is on the rise and its potential is unstoppable. Thank you for being part of the Reef Check network. Together, we can save our reefs and oceans. Best fishes Jenn
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Become a Virtual Diver

August 07, 2018
                Coming to a computer screen near you this August................VIRTUAL DIVING!                Reef Check Australia is part of an amazing new initiative to gather information on the Great Barrier Reef - and we need you to help. As reported by ABC news, and explained in more detail at this month's Brisbane Coast to Coral talk, brand new technology lets you become a virtual diver to help classify Reef images to contribute to coral cover models for the Great Barrier Reef. The Virtual Reef Diver project is a collaborative project developed by a team of scientists and researchers. Reef Check Australia provided historic photos to the project, our trained surveyors evaluated the technology with a series of "test runs" and our team provided feedback on the citizen science training elements required. We are proud to be a part of this innovative new project, with phase one running until 31 August. During this time, participants can view contributed images taken on the Reef and identify and classify the coral cover they see there. You'll be helping scientists to gather valuable data on the Great Barrier Reef, and getting a tour of the underwater environment from your own couch (or wherever you like!) at the same time. Phase 2 of the project will allow divers and snorkelers to submit their own underwater images for classification - so start digging out those pics! We're so excited about this project, we're making it our Action of the Month for August. So hop on board the citizen science train today!    
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Reef Ambassadors at Quandamooka Festival

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

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

July 24, 2018
  Have you got on board with Plastic Free July? Are you working to improve your environmental impact by reducing your single use plastic? GO YOU! Reef Check Australia and our wonderful friends at Biome want to make it even easier for you to ditch single use plastic, so we've teamed up for a great giveaway.   To support Plastic Free July and help you keep your plastic free pledge up for the long haul, Biome have donated 3 single use plastic free hampers for Reef Check to offer our awesome supporters. Each pack contains a reusable water bottle, straw, food wraps, coffee cup, shopping bag and produce bags - to make it easier than ever to be single use plastic free! To be in with a chance of winning one of these packs, all you need to do is donate $25 or more to Reef Check Australia by the end of August.Winners will be selected at random from those who have donated. And no, donating more won't increase your chance of winning -  but it will increase our ability to help protect our reefs and oceans!  Although this promotion is open to Queensland residents only, we hope it won't stop any of you non-Queenslanders from supporting our work! And of course you can all download our free Plastics Ocean Action Kit to help you in your environmental pledges. Let's give single use plastic the flick!
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Winter surveys at Inshore Moreton Bay Sites

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

July 02, 2018
We have a winner! The surfboard raffle was drawn on 2 July and we're thrilled to say a big congratulations to Chris Doropoulos! Check out the handover video!  Huge thank you to Reef Ambassador Tania Kenyon. Tania coordinated this campaign to raise funds to support our work and give back to future Layne Beachley Foundation Aim for the Stars leadership program scholarship winners. As part of her Layne Beachley Aim for the Stars Foundation leadership scholarship and as one of our power house outreach volunteers, she put a tremendous effort into coordinating a raffle of a completely one-of-a-kind and rather epic Tree to Sea Australia timber surf board signed by surf legend herself, Layne Beachley. It is a time when we truly need more people empowered to look after our reefs and oceans and Tania's awesome fundraising efforts will help inspire more reef champions. Since April, our dedicated volunteers have been promoting the raffle and selling tickets at various events and festivals around Brisbane, raising $4,733 for Reef Check Australia and the Layne Beachley Foundation.  Reef Check Australia will receive 70% of the proceeds, and will put the funds toward citizen science and Reef Ambassador outreach activities. The Layne Beachley Foundation will dedicate the funds to recipients of ‘Aim for the Stars’ scholarships, for women striving towards their dreams in a variety of fields. Tania Kenyon, raffle organizer and Reef Check Australia Ambassador, who has been volunteering for Reef Check Australia since 2015, was extremely happy at the outcome. “I feel so good that I was able to give to a group like Reef Check Australia, that is dear to my heart and who’s work is so in line with my passions and ambitions. And that I could give back to the Layne Beachley Foundation, to support more aspiring young women. I’m also humbled at how much the community and my networks got behind what I was doing and showed so much positivity around the raffle – thank you!” We are very grateful to ‘Tree to Sea Australia’ for donating the beautiful surfboard, and of course to everyone that bought a ticket in the raffle. You are true ocean heroes!
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