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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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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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