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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!

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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COVID-19 Update

March 25, 2020
COVID-19 UPDATEReef Check Australia friends, family, volunteers and community. It is clear we all face a great deal of uncertainty in these unprecedented times. While things are changing minute by minute, the Australian Government has just asked Australians to stay at home unless essential, and will be closing down public venues this week. State Governments are also taking matters into their own hands, imposing strict social distancing measures that are likely to ramp up over the coming weeks.   What this means for Reef Check Australia Your safety has always been, and will always be, a core value of Reef Check Australia. In order to stay ahead of the curve (and in this case, ‘flatten the curve’), we will have to make sacrifices to reduce the risk of the virus spreading and to keep vulnerable communities safe. For RCA, this means: Across our entire organisation, we are taking a proactive approach to respond to the evolving COVID-19 situation and will work hard to support all our members throughout this difficult time. As we grapple with the enormous scale and impact of this pandemic, our global Reef Check community continues to support and learn from each other. We have been closely following all developments related to COVID-19, and are going to continue to review our policies around all activities to ensure the continued safety of you, our team and RCA as a whole. If you feel unwell, we respectfully request that we all follow the advice of health authorities and refrain from visiting friends, family, co-workers, and Reef Check Australia. Our RCA office will be scaling down over the next few weeks, with limited staff. Please feel free to reach out, but please note we will be on limited hours and may not reply straight away. We will keep you informed of updates and changes to scheduled events, venues, gatherings, etc. as soon as we receive them. We are currently reviewing each of our planned survey dives, training and community events, and will send updates via email, Facebook and personal phone calls. We have been testing various online platforms to take our events digital, given the new restrictions. Stay tuned for more details on this soon.   We also want to take a moment to recognise that the Coronavirus outbreak not only affects our day-to-day activities and our economy, but it’s also having a significant impact on people’s mental health and levels of stress. Therefore, we want to ask that you join us in maintaining a positive attitude and continue to look for new opportunities in the face of these challenges. Maybe use this time to reconnect (virtually, of course) with those who you haven’t touched base with in a while, and offer your support. We invite you to also share your questions, ideas, and comments with the Reef Check community on Facebook so we can all stay better informed. To get started, here is a great evidence-based resource from some of Australia’s top experts. If you’re looking for fact-based information about COVID-19 and how it spreads, there is also Science Matters: Let’s Talk About COVID-19, a free course by Imperial College of London, one of the top public health research universities in the world. You can also check out our friend Daniel’s Free Live Weekly Online Yoga and Meditation Group to help you revitalise your mind, body and soul. And be sure to stay tuned for some of the awesome RCA online activities that we have planned over the next few weeks until we are able to reconvene with face to face activities. On behalf of the team at Reef Check Australia, thank you for your ongoing support. This is an uncertain time, and the situation is changing by the minute. Please take care of yourself and those closest to you. We are all in this together, and that is how we will get through it.   Kind regards   Jodi Salmond General Manager Reef Check Australiahttp://www.reefcheckaustralia.org/
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Heron Island Report 2019

March 11, 2020
Late last year Reef Check Australia joined the University of Queensland's Remote Sensing Research Center on an expedition to Heron Island, as a part of annual reef health surveys along the QLD coastline.  We are excited to announce that the RCA Heron Island Reef Health Report for 2019 has now been released!     The results from our most recent surveys indicate that total average hard coral across all sites was consistent with previous years and most sites still had low levels of soft coral. Whilst coral scarring from unknown causes was reported at 13 of the 14 sites, and hard coral damage was recorded at 9 of the 14 sites, the good news is that debris was recorded at only four sites. Coral bleaching was recorded on all sites but at relatively low levels. Although the total average coral population bleaching across all sites of 8% is an increase from 2018 levels (3%), this level is consistent with previous records of 8% in 2017 and 5% in 2016. You can check out the full report here. We need to give a huge thank you and congratulations to the 2019 Heron Reef Research Team: Chris Roelfsema, Jodi Salmond, Josh Passenger, Eva Kovacs, Jenni Calcraft, Rodney Borrego, Phil Dunbavan and Doddy Yuwono.     This project was made possible by in-kind support and advice from The University of Queensland’s Remote Sensing Research Centre, Heron Island Research Station and Heron Island Resort
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Marine Clean Up!

March 03, 2020
An early morning start for an awesome team from Reef Check Australia who headed over to Stradbroke Island on Sunday 1 March for Clean Up Australia Day.     Our land based clean up team assisted SIMO by sorting and recording the rubbish. The dive team conducted 2 underwater surveys and an underwater clean-up at Amity Point (in absolutely amazing conditions). Despite the pressure from recreational fishing, this site still supports some incredible coral growth, lots of fish life, octopus, wobbegong sharks and nudibranchs. The total amount of rubbish collected on the island was over 500kgs. Well done to the over 130 volunteers who assisted in this Clean Up day!  
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Whitsundays Traditional Owners Consultation Continues!

February 26, 2020
  As part of Reef Check Australia's Whitsundays Citizen Science project, RCA (in conjunction with Reef Ecologic) continued collaboration with Traditional Owners to select new culturally relevant survey sites in the Whitsundays Region.     On 1st Feb, 2020 Reef Check Australia Great Barrier Reef Co-ordinator Nathan Cook and RCA Ambassador Satya Cook discussed potential survey locations with Ngaro traditional owners. A number of sites were identified along the east coast of Whitsunday island and a field trip to explore some of these sites has been earmarked for early March. Overall outcomes are to increase involvement of Traditional Owners in natural resource management, including monitoring and management of culturally significant sites and species in the region. 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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Australian Marine Debris Initiative - Get the Rundown!

February 18, 2020
  Find out about the recent Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) workshop from RCA volunteer Cheryl Tan: - As part of the warm-up to the recent Clean Up for the Hatchlings event at La Balsa Park, volunteers and employees from participating non-profit organisations (Reef Check Australia, SurfRider Foundation) came together for the AMDI workshop held at SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast Aquarium organised by the Sunshine Coast Council to learn more about the Australian Marine Debris initiative (AMDI) system.    The aim of this workshop was to enable volunteers and organisations who were running beach clean-up events to also collect data on what they were finding with a consistent methodology so it could be collated into a standardised national database on marine debris.   A couple of interesting takeaway points as well as fun facts we learned from this workshop included: Chocolate wrappers and potato crisp packages were classified as “foil wrappers” under the Metal section and not under “Packaging Items” in the datasheet.   How would you differentiate a lollipop stick from an earbud stick?  The top of a white lollipop stick has a square hole but the top of an earbud stick has little grooves in it!    This is a fun activity for kids to get stuck into, but it is also important when it comes to itemising these 2 items in the appropriate category: lollipop sticks go under “Plastics” and earbud sticks go under “Sanitary” in the datasheet.   Once everything under the “Plastics” section has been itemised, we collate all plastic straws and place them in a pile to be counted.    Cyalume sticks were another interesting item. If found during clean-ups, these were first itemised and thereafter collected and sent for identification. These sticks would then be traced back to various fish and tackle stores. There were many other pointers we received during this hands-on session and is definitely a highly recommended workshop for anyone looking to use the AMDI datasheet within their local community clean up events.   Thanks to the Sunshine Coast Council for supporting our work in this region.
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