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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!

Data set 81: Checking maps for Great Sandy reefs

September 17, 2017
Checking up on reef habitat in the Great Sandy Strait In September 2016, 17 community volunteers joined in workshops and field activities to increase current knowledge about reef habitats across the Great Sandy Strait.  Extensive habitat maps have been developed for the Great Sandy/Wide Bay Burnett state waters through the draft Queensland Intertidal and Subtidal Benthic Classification scheme. The first habitat map for the intertidal and marine habitats uses 29 benthic habitat types, based on 80 existing datasets from a range of research and management projects across the region.  However, the combined datasets, high resolution satellite imagery and expert mapping advice identified a number of potential reefal areas that required ground truthing for validation. This project was designed to engage citizen scientists in ground-truthing activities along the length of the Great Sandy Strait to help refine data for available reef habitat maps. Volunteers contributed dataset 81, providing first hand field data on the habitat composition for these locations.   Two interactive workshops prepared participants with a crash course in reef ecology, benthic identification skills and data collection procedures. Many volunteers then joined us in the field to put their new skills into practice! Dataset 81 Expedition  From Urangan to Tin Can Bay, volunteers visited areas key reefal areas to conduct hundreds of spot checks via a combination of drop cameras, viewing buckets and snorkel surveys. We were lucky enough to undertake this expedition onboard the Science Under Sail vessel, MV Velella, a 12m sailing catamaran with a small support vessel (a 3.6m RIB). The weather was on our side, for 5 days of Great Sandy Marine Park at its finest!  Our team explored a range of reef habitats, sometimes confirming areas of coral or sponge habitat, sometimes finding, well, lots of sand. Its all important and the crew enjoyed the process of discovery, knowing it was providing an important contribution to maps that can support best-practice science and management for this beautiful and unique part of the world.  In addition to data collection, participants also helped with data management onboard the boat and learned about the unique marine habitats of Great Sandy Marine Park. There was plenty of plotting too, with talk of more spot checks, plans by local Seagrass Watch volunteers to cross-reference their new reef knowledge and integration of mapping data collection into more detailed marine surveys of Norman Point and Seary's Ledge. Next steps The spot check data will now be reviewed and assessed by UQ's Remote Sensing Research Centre, who will create a digital spatial data file outlining the extent of the reef inventory areas, which can be shared and discussed with project partners. We are also working on creating a matrix of category references to directly link RCA habitat mapping data with the Queensland Intertidal and Subtidal Benthic Classification scheme, directly integrating datasets and providing a framework for other projects to utilise.  Project support This project is supported through the Burnett Mary Regional Group Keeping It Great grants with funding from the National Landcare Program. Thank you to project partners including The University of Queensland Remote Sensing Research Centre, Science Under Sail and Cooloola Coastcare. A special thank you to Maria Zann, Chris Roelfsema, James Udy and Maree Prior for their sage guidance and general awesomeness. 
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Coast to Coral launch in Brisbane

June 30, 2017
We've launched the Moreton Bay Coast to Coral talk series! The Brisbane talk series has been built on the successful model of our first Sunshine Coast series, proving a monthly opportunity for a community catch up fuelled by curiosity, pizza, and passion for all things ocean!The launch of this initiative has been championed by two of our Reef Ambassadors, Tania Kenyon and Courtney Morgans. Tania has helped this new event series find its feet through her Layne Beachley Aim for the Stars Scholarship. "This scholarship gave me the confidence to help get this event off the ground, and funding meant we could print promotional materials and a beautiful A-frame for Reef Check events in Brisbane. The first two talk series events have been a massive success, with a packed house each evening. It was amazing to see so many engaged and interesting people in one room, listening to a great talks about the evolving legacy of reef citizen science by Dr Chris Roelfsema and the wonders and conservation challenges of migratory shorebirds with Micha Jackson."
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Seaside Scavenge launch in North Queensland

June 17, 2017
We were thrilled to team up with the crew at Seaside Scavenge to run the first ever events for North Queensland and launch an official local Scavenge Chapter!  Putting a new spin on coastal clean-ups, these events fuse music, art, to trade clean up trash for second-hand treasures! In the first event on Magnetic Island, many were surprised to find many small pieces of debris even in areas that looked relatively clean. We had over 100 people stop more than 200kg of debris from reaching our oceans. Wanna encourage some of your own introspection about your footprint? Check out ABC's War on Waste. An incredible number of prizes were donated by local businesses to get everyone Scavenging up a storm. Pre-loved clothes, books, toys and more that were donated by the local community. A massive thanks to everyone involved! Without the dedication on the day from our incredible crew of volunteers sorting and recording data for Tangaroa Blue’s Australian Marine Debris Database and local support from Magnetic Island Nature Care Association, this event would not have been possible.  This event was made possible with support from NQ Dry Tropics through the National Landcare Programme, Townsville City Council and a range of awesome local businesses,
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New maps for Moreton Bay reefs

January 16, 2017
Do you know there are corals in Moreton Bay? Reef Check Australia teamed up with scientists from the University of Queensland Remote Sensing Research Centre and Healthy Land and Water to provide the most detailed map yet of reef habitat in Moreton Bay/Quandamooka.The habitat maps will contribute future science, management and conservation efforts for these unique subtropical reefs on the doorstep of Brisbane. Read ABC's coverage about this project and check out the ABC TV coverage. We're so proud of the great work that our volunteers and partners make possible!This project was funded by the Australian Government's 25th Anniversary Landcare Programme and Port of Brisbane Community Grants in 2015 and Redland City Council in 2016.  Check out the report. Big thanks to Channel 10 Totally Wild for the story! 
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Moreton Bay a Hope Spot

September 30, 2016
Moreton Bay was officially declared one of 14 new Hope Spots by IUCN and Mission Blue at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in September. Hope Spots are unique marine environments that are critical to the health of our oceans. The successful nomination was jointly submitted with the awesome crew at The University of Queensland Underwater Club (Unidive). After rigorous scientific vetting and policy analysis of the submission, this subtropical location joined the ranks with just 76 other locations around the world.  We're thrilled to see this acknowledgement of the unique marine wildlife and habitats of Moreton Bay, It is an outstanding commendation for the dedicated people who are committed to looking after this place. What an awesome example of the power of citizen science in action. We're proud to be a part of this movement and grateful to the huge range of people and organisations who are champions for Moreton Bay/Quandamooka. Stay tuned for next steps!
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New monitoring sites for Mackay

April 16, 2016
In 2016, the Reef Check Team established four new survey sites in the Mackay region. With help from the Mackay Dive Club and Megaforce Charters new sites were created on Keswick and Wigdon Islands. These reefs are located in the South Cumberland islands. While perhaps not as well-known as neighbouring reefs to the north in the Whitsundays, surveyors were thrilled to visit these new fringing reef locations. Good to only see relatively low levels of bleaching (6-12%), given some more startling bleaching reports from other areas further north. Will be keeping in contact with local operators for any updates on condition. These sites help provide new knowledge of reef health and monitor changes in years to come. This project is supported through Reef Catchments and we look forward to continuing to expand our work in this region.
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New reef monitoring program for Fraser Coast

August 29, 2012
Our teams braved the chilly winter waters off the Fraser Coast to establish the first long-term monitoring locations in the area, helping to close the gap between our Great Barrier Reef sites and South East Queensland sites. The team visited 5 sites, including 3 sites inshore Hervey Bay and two off the Woongara Coast near Bundaberg. We worked with local management authorities and researchers to select sites with existing baseline data and important management priorities, with water quality as a particular focus. Reef Check sites will help to provide additional long-term reef health data for these unique subtropical reef systems. Thanks very much to Great Sandy Marine Park, Bundaberg Aqua Scuba, Bundy Dive Charters, the Hervey Bay Boat Club and a few passionate locals for all of your help implementing this new project. This project is supported by funding from the Australian Government’s Caring for Our Country.
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