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Around the Reef - Reef Check Australia - October 2023

February 16, 2024
Dear Friend Welcome to our October update. The end of the year is quickly approaching and our teams have been out and about doing surveys and attending events. We rely heavily on our volunteers to make these things happen, so we say a BIG thank you to those who were able to help make all of these things possible.  This months email includes: Action of the Month: Start local for a global impact. News from the Field Brain Food Current Coral Affairs Get With the Program Start Local for a Global Impact Photo by David Clode on Unsplash As the vibrant colours of spring continue to surround us and the warmer weather starts to trickle in, we thought it would be the perfect time to celebrate this months Action of the month; to take action for your local environment. This month, lets celebrate the natural world around us, and choose tangible ways to protect it. With world habitat day and world migratory bird day amongst others sharing October, we thought it the perfect time to look after local, for a global focus. This month we have our Moreton Bay reef restoration activities continuing, and we will be joining a seaweed restoration project on the Sunshine Coast. We are gearing up to help with coral spawning activities in the Great Barrier Reef early next month, and there are so many sea birds gracing our shores on their annual migration, it’s a great opportunity to admire these animals that have arrived on our shores. With so many ways to make a positive impact on our local environment, let's come together as a community to protect the beautiful natural spaces that surround us. Unsure what you can do? Join a community clean up day, join a tree planting activity, join in one of our restoration activities above or below the water, jump onto Inaturalist and start logging what you see in the world around you, or maybe build a frog house in your backyard, or create a haven for other critters like possums or bats. There are plenty of small ideas that have big impacts. Remember, every action counts. This October, let's unite in protecting our local environment and leave a positive impact on the world around us. Together, we can create a greener, cleaner, and more sustainable future for generations to come. News from the field Stories and updates from our teams out & about. Check out some of these regional stories on our website! South East Queensland Tallebudgera Land Based Clean Up A group of Reef Check Australia volunteers braved the cold winter mornings we’ve had recently (despite it not technically been winter yet!) and cleaned the area around Tallebudgera Creek on the Gold Coast. The area we targeted on this occasion was around Kevin Gates Park on Saturday 27th May including the park land, the rock wall and the beaches surrounding the creek. This area is surrounded by developments, is a common park ground for recreational activities and is also a popular fishing spot, and thus prone to littering. A lot of fishing gear (fishing line, lures, sinkers etc.) was collected along the creek. Sadly, many cigarette butts and bits of soft plastic were also collected making up a large portion of 300 items making up approximately 3kg of debris collected over a 400m2 area. Many items looked like they had been embedded in the surrounding environment for quite a while. Overall, the most common items on the clean-up were fishing line, plastic wrappers and bits of confetti. It was concerning that we found lots of small pieces of plastic as this suggests that they have been breaking down in the environment and are potentially accumulating in the area. They can also pose a very real threat to animals and marine critters that inhabit the area. Remember, every little bit counts. If you see rubbish on the beach, pick it up and dispose of it in the correct bins. Together, we can and will make an ocean of difference! Reef Check Acknowledge the Yugambeh people of the Gold Coast, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project has received funding support from The City of Gold Coast's Catchment and Citizen Science Grants Program. Goat Island West Reef Health Survey, May 2023 Another beautiful autumn day meaning another perfect day to hit the water and survey reef health as a part of our long term reef health monitoring program in Moreton Bay. Goat Island is a coral cay in the middle of Moreton Bay, surrounded by internationally recognised Ramsar wetlands and the Moreton Bay Marine Park. It sits just off the coast of the North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah) town of Dunwich (Goompie) and is a tiny, uninhabited island that supports an impressive array of native species, and provides critical habitat and roosting sites for shorebirds. The island’s rocks in the south-west corner are known among boaties as a superb fishing spot, with a multitude of fish species gathering at the rocks to feed as the tide rises. The Goat Island West reef health monitoring site was set up in 2014, in collaboration with Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation and Quandamooka Land & Sea Management Agency. The site sits to the southwest of the island and is impacted by the steady flow of boating traffic moving close the island. It is dominated by rocky substrate and soft coral. The site was last monitored by Reef Check Australia in 2022, shortly after the February floods.  It was a great opportunity to check in on the health of this reef after such widespread impacts in the region last year. A medium amount of silt was recorded covering the site. Bleached coral was recorded on every transect, however population levels were low (1-5%). Coral disease was recorded on a few coral colonies and several items of marine debris were recorded and removed from the location; fishing line and glass bottles in particular. Reef Check acknowledges the Quandamooka people of Minjerribah, the Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place, and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project has received funding support from the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action grant program. Shark Gulley, Flat Rock, Reef Health survey, June 2023 With the sun out, the water cold and the whales passing by in droves, the Reef Check Australia team soaked up all the glorious sunshine above the water, and all the amazing diversity below the water, at the Nursery at Flat Rock. Flat Rock is a popular recreational diving and boating location offshore from Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) featuring an exposed rocky ledge dropping into deeper water. This Marine National Park (Green no take) zone has a no-fishing zone and is also a Grey Nurse Shark Protection area. This site was established in 2009. The site is made up of rocky ridges and gullies and is characterised by encrusting and branching hard corals and benthic invertebrates. Site 1 lays at 9 meters on the seaward side of the fringing reef, sitting above a common gathering area for Grey Nurse Sharks. The survey team was treated to 16 whales in the vicinity of our dive boat before heading under water to see what we could find. The site sits along a benthically diverse wall. Hard coral percentage was less than when the site was last surveyed, with soft coral taking up a much larger footprint than in previous years. Rock made up the majority of the benthos, with ascidians, sponges and nutrient indicator algae making up the remainder. Minimal impacts were recorded, and a couple of sea urchins, a clam and drupella snails were the only target invertebrates recorded, however a calcareous tube worm was recorded which is a fascinating organism and an absolute highlight of the dive (besides the whales of course). Thanks to all the volunteers and organisers who made this trip a success, and to Manta Lodge for getting us to site. Reef Check acknowledges the Quandamooka people of Minjerribah, the Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place, and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project has received funding support from the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action grant program. Narrowneck Artificial Reef; Reef Health Survey, August 2023 A minimal tide, clear calm waters and sunshine meant all systems go for the Reef Check Australia in water research team as they headed out on the early morning to visit Narrowneck Artificial Reef as a part of their annual reef health surveys for the Gold Coast region. Reef Check Australia has been monitoring Southeast Queensland reefs since 2007, and Narrowneck Artificial Reef since 2007, as part of a partnership with City of Gold Coast to monitor the health of reefs in the area, and the growth of this artificial reef structure. Narrowneck reef (sometimes called “Gold Coast Reef”) is an artificial reef (made from geotextile) that was constructed in 1999. At 70,000 cubic meters, it holds the title for the largest multi-purpose reef ever constructed. The reef was designed primarily as a shoreline stabilisation structure. Creating better surfing waves was a secondary concern. However, it’s generally accepted that it did improve the quality of surf during its earlier years by improving the shape and frequency of rideable waves. Due to degradation, the reef was refurbished in 2017 and 2018, providing improved shoreline stabilisation and an increase in waves. However anecdotal information suggests the reef is seldom surfed. The site supports a large variety of algae and seaweed with sponges and ascidians. This year, a small amount of soft coral was also spotted; big hoorah! We were lucky enough to also find several wobbegongs, plenty of fish and a small shark as well. A small amount of debris was also found on site. This site is very dependant on calm conditions, so we were very lucky to have gorgeous conditions enabling us to visit this site. Big thanks to Gold Coast Dive Adventures for getting us to the site! Reef Check Acknowledge the people of the Yugambeh language region of the Gold Coast, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place, and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project has received funding support from The City of Gold Coasts Catchment and Citizen Science Grants Program. Kings Beach, Reef Health Survey, September 2023 Utilising local surveyors who used quick action to let us know the time was NOW to check out the glorious Kings Beach boat ramp for our annual reef health monitoring site meant the A team activating their inner MacGyver to come up with a plan quickly and effectively. With visiting superstars of Reef Check Australia GBR team Julie and Terry, the team was ready to jump in the spring water and see what we could find! Sunny conditions and clear waters before the storm came rolling in and swell picked up was a glorious start to this survey. Kings Beach is a surprising fringing reef located approximately 100m offshore, adjacent to a frequently utilized boat ramp and near to Caloundra's popular beachfront area. Site 1 is situated at a depth of 3 meters. This site was added to the Reef Check Australia reef health survey list in 2009, to gain a better understanding of reefs off the southern Sunshine Coast. The site was heavily impacted by the 2011 SEQ flood, and again in the 2022 flood. The area has a diverse array of corals and critters found at the site, and despite consistently being impacted by increased flooding, the coral populations are slowly increasing after being almost completely decimated in 2011. The site was again covered in the macro algae Asparagopsis (see previous posts and ongoing research on this algae) which makes surveying that extra bit of fun! Plenty of Halimeda (a reef building algae) and sea stars were found amongst patchy encrusting hard corals, and a few soft corals making their way through the algal carpet. Ascidians (commonly called sea squirts) were found across the entire site in a variety of forms. Non target sea cucumbers, one collector urchin and a couple of long spined sea urchins were also recorded on transect. No target fish were recorded on this site, however only two pieces of rubbish was found here, which is a great sign! If you haven’t checked out Kings Beach you should grab a snorkel and get down there! Reef Check Acknowledge the Kabi Kabi people of the Sunshine Coast, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place, and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project is supported by the Sunshine Coast Council’s Environmental Levy Partnerships Grant. Great Barrier Reef Nelly Bay Land Clean Up In September Reef Check Australia was joined by Our World Heritage Island and Co-Exist Australia for our biannual clean up as part of Tangaroa Blue's ReefClean project. Unfortunately, due to unfavourable conditions the in-water part of the clean-up was postponed, however we were still able to conduct the beachcombing component on September 16th as planned. This beach combing event was a great way for locals to become involved in protecting their beautiful island. We were joined by 37 participants, including local families, Townsville residents and tourists to clean up what first appears to be a reasonably clean beach. We were all surprised by the number of debris collected, which totalled 1612 debris weighing 14.5kg! The most common items collected were hard plastic pieces (630), soft plastic remnants (140) and cigarette butts (134). The team was very disappointed to see such a large number of cigarette butts, however we are happy we managed to collect so many so they are no longer posing a threat to local marine life. We would like to say a massive thank you to all who took part in this event, it was great to see people of all ages becoming involved and excited to do their part to keep our oceans and beaches clean! Thank you to Our World Heritage Island and Co-Exist Australia for collaborating with us on this event, we hope to work with you again soon! Check out these two organisations on social media to learn more about what they each do to help protect our beautiful earth. This project is supported by Tangaroa Blue through ReefClean; a project funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust. Reef Clean is a project to remove and reduce marine debris impacting the Great Barrier Reef. All debris form this event were sorted and the data added to the Australian Marine Debris Initiative Database. We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on where these activities take place, the Wulgurukaba people. We pay our respects to their elders, past, present and emerging and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in our community today. Alma Bay Underwater Clean Up The conditions around Magnetic Island have been very windy and swelly over the last couple of months, so as soon as our Townsville team found a break in these conditions, we quickly headed to Alma Bay to conduct our biannual beach and underwater clean up as part of Tangaroa Blue's ReefClean project. Being school holidays, we weren’t surprised to see this beach full of people when we arrived, nor were we surprised to find items such as sunglasses, hats and hair clips during the 40 minute scuba dive, however we did only fall a small amount of eight debris underwater.   As for the beach clean up, we had a very different outcome with a total of 566 pieces of marine debris collected along the beach which is les than 200m long. The most common debris as expected was hard plastic remnants, accounting for 397 of the 566 pieces of debris. As microplastic surveys throughout Australia have identified this location to have the highest concentration of microplastic of any surveyed beach in the country, we decided to separate microplastics (those less than 5mm in diameter) from larger pieces. We collected 192 microplastics from within the seaweed along the high tide line! On a positive note, this time around we found much less glass from smashed alcoholic beverage bottles compared to last clean up at this location in May – only 6 pieces of glass this time compared to the 465 we collected last time.   This project is supported by Tangaroa Blue through ReefClean; a project funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust. ReefClean is a project to remove and reduce marine debris impacting the Great Barrier Reef. All debris form this event were sorted and the data added to the Australian Marine Debris Initiative Database. We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on where these activities take place, the Wulgurukaba people. We pay our respects to their elders, past, present and emerging and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in our community today.   Brain Food Reviews and details on books, documentaries, and podcasts that we have come across, & wanted to share. Earthshot, How to save our planet. Colin Butfield and Jonnie Hughes. A book of optimism and action to save our planet. Current Coral Affairs Check out some of the latest news and research about our ocean Jurassic era fish fossil found to have died from eating an overly large ammoniteA pair of paleontologists at Universität Hohenheim's Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart has found a fossilized Jurassic-era fish that appears to have died after swallowing an overly large ammonite. Samuel Cooper and Erin Maxwell report their study of the fossil in the journal Geological Magazine. Read now in: phys.org   Scientists uncover the secret of the deep-sea ‘octopus garden’After three years of monitoring the area, researchers found the site is a popular mating and nesting ground for pearl octopuses, where hot springs help embryos develop twice as fast than expected at this depth. Read now: CNN Get with the Program Here's what we've got coming up in the next few weeks, keep checking the website for more updates.  3 October | Coast to Corals: Rubble Stabilisation and Dynamics. Head to Reef Check Australia to register. 21 October | Seaweed Restoration Festival - Alexandra Headlands. Head to USC for more information on how to become involved. 29 October | UQ Moreton Bay Research Station Open Day. Keep an eye on our socials for more information. 4 November | Mooloolaba Foreshore Festival. For more info: Hello Sunshine Magazine If you missed any of our Coast to Coral online events, remember you can always catch-up by taking a look at our YouTube Channel here     Thanks for reading! If you want to help our work to empower more people to protect Australian reefs, please consider making a monthly tax-deductible donation.    Make a Donation   Copyright © 2023 Reef Check Australia, All rights reserved.You have received this newsletter because you have given Reef Check Australia your email address. If you would prefer not to receive any further emails, please click the unsubscribe link in your email.Our mailing address is: Reef Check Australia PO Box 782, Mooloolaba, QLD, 4557Australia
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Around the Reef - Reef Check Australia - September 2023

February 16, 2024
Dear Friend Welcome to our September update. Winter is over and spring is upon us. For many areas winter was warmer than normal with reports of flowers blooming early even in Tasmania. Scientists are hoping this is not a sign of things to come as whilst early flowers might seem nice, scientists are concerned that pollinators do not respond to the same temperature cues and we could end up with an ecological imbalance. This is another indication of our changing climate and reinforces the importance of everyone doing their bit, no matter how small, to help our environment.  This months email includes: Action of the Month: Spring into spring! News from the Field Brain Food Current Coral Affairs Get With the Program Spring into Spring! Image by Sean Oulashin - unsplash HOW IS IT SEPTEMBER? I don’t know about you, but every time I look at the calendar, another day week month has passed.. and now it's already September!!!  This year has proven to be one of our busiest. We are all so busy at the moment, trying to fit all the activities we perhaps missed out on over the past few years into one very action packed 2023! During winter, we found comfort in rest and recuperation, but now it's time to channel that energy into action. Let's take a moment to assess where we stand in our personal goals and aspirations for 2023. Are we on track to achieve what we set out to do? Spring is the perfect time to reassess, re-evaluate, and realign our paths as we SPRING into SPRING! So set some time for yourself to reflect and review. And if you need some guiding prompts to kick start you, here are a couple; What have I done well? What would I do differently if I had the time again? Am I spending and investing in places which are aligned with my values? What is the part of each day I am most tired/stressed/frustrated and how can I do it differently? What is the one thing I can change NOW to improve my experience of 2023? Remember, without looking back we have no idea how far we have come! Let’s Spring into Spring with a renewed sense of purpose, embracing the chance to make a difference and create lasting memories. Don't hesitate to reach out and join us in our upcoming adventures— above or below the water. It's time to bloom with the promise of a brighter future for ourselves and the world around us! News from the field Stories and updates from our teams out & about. Check out some of these regional stories on our website! South East Queensland Tallebudgera Underwater Clean Up A group of keen Reef Check Australia snorkellers and divers braved the chilly (almost) winter morning on the 27th May to clean up Tallebudgera creek on the Gold Coast. The creek area is a popular swimming and fishing spot and can therefore be impacted by littering and industrial waste. During previous activities, this area has been identified as a hot spot, hence our continued efforts to remove debris located in the area as well as the continued monitoring of changes in the levels of debris removed. It was encouraging to report that fewer items were found under the water than we have previously recorded on both land and underwater clean-ups at this location. The debris consisted of large numbers of fishing line, lures and hooks. These items can pose a significant entanglement risk to others swimmers, snorkellers and divers. They can also be damaging to marine creatures that get entangled and entrapped in fishing line, which is why it is so important to remove as much debris as we can safely. This activity forms part of a wider program to look at the ongoing impacts of the floods in early 2022, in addition to documenting the rate of attrition of marine debris in the region. Everyone can make a difference to the health of their local marine resources. If you see debris, please pick it up and dispose of it correctly. Together, we can and will make an ocean of difference! Reef Check Acknowledge the Yugambeh people of the Gold Coast, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project has received funding support from the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action grant program. Myora Reef Health Survey The sun was shining, and the water was clear (if a bit chilly!) so the team took the opportunity to check out the gorgeous Moreton Bay site; Myora reef. Myora Reef is a unique reef habitat in Moreton Bay, as it is the only location dominated by Acropora corals (a branching hard coral). Myora Reef is situated on a fringing reef on the west side of North Stradbroke Island, within the Marine National Park (Green no take) zone. The reef patch is situated next to Rainbow channel and therefore receives extensive tidal flushing. The site is one of our long-term monitoring sites, established in 2014 in collaboration with the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation and Quandamooka Land & Sea Management Agency. The site hosts notable hard coral communities, with the hard coral growth forms dominated by branching, plate and foliose. Some bleaching and coral disease was observed but at less than 1% of the population, levels were low. The site had a medium silt level recorded, and turf algae covering available rock surfaces. Butterflyfish and snapper were recorded onsite, along with long spined sea urchins, and non target sea cucumbers; sea cucumbers are not commonly recorded on any of our reef health monitoring sites.Thanks to all the volunteers and organisers who made this trip a success, and to Go Dive for getting us to site. Reef Check acknowledges the Quandamooka people of Minjerribah, the Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place, and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project has received funding support from the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action grant program.    Underwater Clean Up Dive Peel Island Crystal clear waters, calm seas and sunshine made the perfect day for the Reef Check Australia team to hit the water for an underwater clean up at Peel Island for World Oceans Day, June 8 2023. Peel Island is a small, heritage-listed island and national park located in Moreton Bay, just 4km from the mainland at Cleveland. The island is known for its natural beauty and wildlife enjoyed by locals and visitors alike and is accessed only by boat or watercraft.  The island has an interesting history. To read all about it, check out some of our previous posts. The island is a popular fishing and swimming area, with tens of boats often anchored in Horseshoe Bay due to the area offering protection from many winds, and a safe spot to swim.  This site was selected as it has been previously identified as a hot spot. Sitting close to Platypus wreck, and close to a beach entry point, this area is commonly used. Due to the large number of people visiting the area, it is often littered with fishing debris as well as additional recreational items. This activity forms part of a wider program to look at the ongoing impacts of the floods in early 2022, in addition to documenting the rate of attrition of marine debris in the area due to boating and fishing. Approximately 12 kilograms of debris was removed from a 800m2 area, including 10 glass bottles, approximately 30meters of fishing line, lures and sinkers, rope, and a discarded crab pot.  Where debris was able to be safely removed, it was. Any large items with coral growth established was left in situ. With large amounts of the reef suffering significant impacts due to the floods and storms of 2022, we want to ensure live coral remains that way. Reef Check Acknowledge the Quandamooka people, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project has received funding support from the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action grant program. Moreton Bay - Flat Rock - The Nursery Reef Health Survey With the sun out, the water cold and the whales passing by in droves, the Reef Check Australia team soaked up all the glorious sunshine above the water, and all the amazing diversity below the water, at the Nursery at Flat Rock. Flat Rock is a popular recreational diving and boating location offshore from Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) featuring an exposed rocky ledge dropping into deeper water. This Marine National Park (Green no take) zone has a no-fishing zone and is also a Grey Nurse Shark Protection area. The Nursery, Site 1 is on the sheltered leeward side of Flat Rock, where a flat rocky slope meets rocky boulders. This site was established in 2008, and sits at a depth of six- eight meters on the leeward side of the fringing reef. This site is a haven for turtles and wobbegongs, with plenty of each being found on the transect, as we listened to the whales as they passed us close enough to hear them but not see them. Hard coral cover has stayed steady at approximately 23%, with a slight increase in the percentage of soft coral since 2021. Additional benthic categories making up the rest of the transect included anemones, sponges and nutrient indicator algae; all increased in presence since 2021. Pencil urchins, long spined sea urchins, anemones, giant clams and drupella snails were all recorded on the transect. Coral disease, unknown scars and bleaching were recorded, although in low numbers. A beautiful site to revisit! Thanks to all the volunteers and organisers who made this trip a success, and to Manta Lodge for getting us to site. Reef Check acknowledges the Quandamooka people of Minjerribah, the Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place, and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project has received funding support from the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action grant program. Industry Placement Information Night Reef Check Australia General Manager Jodi Salmond joined almost 40 students and speakers recently at the University of Queenslands HDR Industry Placement Information Night! Such a great turn-out with students joining in the event to learn more about options for industry placements in the marine sector. Such a great opportunity for students to meet people working in the sector, make connections, and ask questions! Thankyou to UQ Centre for Marine Science for organising the event, for fellow industry representatives from CSIRO, frc environmental, Healthy Land & Water, Reef Check Australia and Sea World - Gold Coast, Australia, as well as to Nathaly from the UQ Graduate School who helped students understand the placement program in more detail. Lots of great connections were forged, and we look forward to hearing from HDR students undertaking industry placements in the future. Reef Check Acknowledge the Turrbal/Jagera people, Traditional Custodians of the land on which the University of Queensland is situated, and on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. Reef Check Australia’s involvement in reef health monitoring and community engagement in the Brisbane region has  received funding support from the Port of Brisbane.   Great Barrier Reef Alma Bay Land and Underwater Clean Up Late May we were joined by Co-Exist Australia for our biannual beach and underwater clean up at Alma Bay, on Magnetic Island. Our combined team of 19 volunteers put in an amazing effort and collected a whopping 908 pieces of debris along this popular beach, making a huge impact in helping keep our local areas clean! Over half of what was collected on the beach (465) was pieces of broken glass, primarily found among the rocky areas at each side of the bay. We also collected 239 hard plastic remnants, which wasn’t surprising as this location has been found to have the highest concentration of microplastics of all surveyed beached within Australia! Thankfully within the water there was much less, with our team of divers and snorkellers collecting 13 pieces from within the water around the reefs. Once again glass was the most commonly found. This project is supported by Tangaroa Blue through ReefClean; a project funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust. ReefClean is a project to remove and reduce marine debris impacting the Great Barrier Reef We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on where these activities take place, the Wulgurukaba people. We pay our respects to their elders, past, present and emerging and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in our community today.    Dry Tropics Report Card Launch Townsville Our team joined the large number of partners responsible for the data behind the Townsville Dry Tropics Waterways Report Card 2023 for the public launch in Townsville this month. Organised by the Dry Tropics Partnership for Healthy Waters, the afternoon was well attended by the passing public including young prep students, university students, families and holiday makers. We were able to showcase the work Reef Check Australia does and how the data we collect contributes to documents such as the Report Card. Our little reef survey display was once again a hit with the kids, raising questions from the enquiring minds and encouraging them (and their parents) to think about how their actions can make a real difference to protecting our reefs and oceans. As partners, we were delighted to attend a private evening function, which included networking opportunities and trivia. We were very happy to note that some of the prizes to be won were bottles of wine from Goodwill Wines, with 50% of the profits going to Reef Check Australia. Although our table tried our hardest, we did not win any trivia prizes, but it was still a win for Reef Check Australia. Thank You Dry Tropics Partnership for Healthy Waters! We also acknowledge the Bindal and Wulgurukaba People, the traditional custodians of the land on which this event took place, and their elders past, present and emerging. Our attendance at this event was made possible by support from Townsville City Council Creek to Coral program.   Brain Food Reviews and details on books, documentaries, and podcasts that we have come across, & wanted to share. Inside your mind. Podcast by Stephen Fry. Available on audible.   Current Coral Affairs Check out some of the latest news and research about our ocean Jellyfish roaming the sea for at least 500 million years The extinct Burgessomedusa phasmiformis evolved to swim hundreds of millions of years before dinosaurs existed. Read in: Popular Science Miracle substance growing off Australian Cost A miracle substance being grown off the coast of Australia could be the solution to a growing problem the country is facing. Read in: news.com.au Close to home - Record Breaking haul of illegal crab pots. Marine park rangers and fisheries officers have retrieved 195 derelict or illegal crab pots from Pumicestone Passage. Read now: abc.net.au Get with the Program Here's what we've got coming up in the next few weeks, keep checking the website for more updates.  5 September | Coast to Corals - Restoration opportunities in a UNESCO biosphere with Maddison Brown. Register now: Reef Check Calendar 23 September | Plastic Free Sea Festival. Happy Valley Caloundra. Free event.  24 September | Raffles at Your Mates Brewery, Warana. All profits from sale of raffle tickets go to Reef Check Australia. 29 Sept - 1 Oct | Caloundra Music Festival - tickets available now: https://caloundramusicfestival.com/ If you missed any of our Coast to Coral online events, remember you can always catch-up by taking a look at our YouTube Channel here     Thanks for reading! If you want to help our work to empower more people to protect Australian reefs, please consider making a monthly tax-deductible donation.    Make a Donation   Copyright © 2023 Reef Check Australia, All rights reserved.You have received this newsletter because you have given Reef Check Australia your email address. If you would prefer not to receive any further emails, please click the unsubscribe link in your email.Our mailing address is: Reef Check Australia PO Box 782, Mooloolaba, QLD, 4557Australia
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Around the Reef - Reef Check Australia - August 2023

August 02, 2023
Dear {{recipient.first_name_or_friend}}  Welcome to our August update. Our teams have once again been busy, but we still have some past events to share with you. We would like to say a BIG welcome to our new subscribers from our most recent events and our Ambassador trainees who commenced their training last week. Hopefully you will get to meet some of these people at our upcoming events. This months email includes: Action of the Month: Create a new habit! News from the Field Brain Food Current Coral Affairs Get With the Program Create a new habit! Creating a new habit or ditching an old one is hard.  Whether it's exercising more, eating healthier, or practicing self-care, creating a new habit can be challenging. But with the right approach and mindset, it's possible to develop new habits that stick. Well. The time is now, and we are here to help. So this months Action of the Month is to create a new habit (and lets make it a good one!) There are 4 laws to creating habits - Make them obvious, attractive, easy and satisfying. Start small. Instead of trying to make a big change all at once, focus on taking small, consistent steps. Want to read more books? Leave the book where you have to physically pick it up. Set a goal of just opening the book, make it a book you want to read, and maybe read it in your comfy chair, in the sun, or at the beach, so all 4 laws are met. Remember to make it enjoyable. Find ways to make your new habit fun or rewarding. If you enjoy your new habit, you'll be more likely to stick to it. Accountability is also important when it comes to building a new habit. Having someone to support you and hold you accountable can make a big difference in sticking to your new habit. Another really important tool for creating great habits is to track them!  There are plenty of habit trackers out there; paper and app versions. Tracking helps make your habits obvious, increases self-esteem around ability to change/grow and can also increase motivation by gamifying it. Remember to be patient with yourself. Building a new habit takes time and effort, and setbacks are a natural part of the process. Don't beat yourself up if you slip up or miss a day, simply recommit to your habit and keep moving forward. With dedication and perseverance, you can develop new habits that bring positive changes to your life. So, What habit will you focus on building this August? News from the field Stories and updates from our teams out & about. Check out some of these regional stories on our website! South East Queensland Peel Island Underwater Clean Up With blue skies and clear water, the Reef Check Australia team was out again, on and under the water cleaning up our local Moreton Bay marine environments, this time at Peel Island North. Peel Island is a small, heritage-listed island and national park located in Moreton Bay, just 4km from the mainland at Cleveland. The island is known for its natural beauty and wildlife enjoyed by locals and visitors alike and is accessed only by boat or watercraft.  The island has an interesting history. To read all about it, check out some of our previous posts. The island is a popular fishing area. Unlike Horseshoe Bay, the north of the Island is not as protected from the elements, meaning less tourist boats. There is however heavy use by recreational fishermen. For this reason, this site was selected as it has been previously identified as a hot spot for marine debris. Surprisingly, much less debris was recorded at this location. Approximately 2 kilograms of debris was removed from a 400m2 area, including 3 glass bottles, approximately 20 meters of fishing line, and some pieces of broken glass. This activity forms part of a wider program to look at the ongoing impacts of the floods in early 2022, in addition to documenting the rate of attrition of marine debris in the area due to boating and fishing. Reef Check Acknowledge the Quandamooka people, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project has received funding support from the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action grant program. Burleigh Heads Beach Clean Up The last day of school holidays and the weather was perfect, so the Reef Check Australia team took the opportunity to clean up the popular Burleigh Heads as a part of an ongoing effort to document debris loads along the length of the Queensland coastline. Burleigh is popular with tourists and locals alike, as evidenced by the huge amount of people enjoying the sun surf and sand bright an early on a Sunday morning. Unfortunately, many also choose to leave their waste behind. Over 1000 pieces of debris was removed in a couple of hours. 473 of these items were plastic, single use balloons. Polystyrene chunks were also found, as well as a variety of both paper and plastic straws and cutlery, 147 cigarette butts, plastics, clothing, and even some toothpaste, sunscreen and a pool noodle. This activity forms part of a wider program to look at the ongoing impacts of the floods in early 2022, in addition to documenting the rate of attrition of debris in the area due to land based activities. Approximately 8.9 kilograms of debris was removed from a 500m stretch of beach, covering 8000 square meters. Despite the number of accessible bins in the area, the sand dunes, trees and shrubs were filled with a variety of debris items. It doesn’t take much to make a difference. If you see debris, pick it up. Every bit counts. Together we can stop this rubbish from entering our oceans and waterways. Reef Check Acknowledge the Yugambeh people of the Gold Coast, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project has received funding support from the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action grant program. Gold Coast Seaway - Reef Health Surveys Braving the crowds that can always be found utilising this popular Gold Coast area, our team of trained volunteer divers headed to the Gold Coast Seaway to undertake our annual survey at the South-west Wall. This site was established in 2007 after initially conducting a clean-up dive and discovering the diversity of organisms and substrates at this site, and the potential for change over time. This site is located within the broadwater and is a very popular spot for fishing, boating, diving, snorkelling and swimming, with a sandy beach and sets of steps making access to the water easy. Visibility was excellent with the substrate dominated by rock with turf algae reaching a sandy base. Despite the unassuming appearance of the substrate, the site hosts a variety of marine organisms including tunicates, hydroids and nudibranchs. Our team recorded a number of target organisms including butterflyfish, moray eels and snapper, several collector urchins, lobsters, banded coral shrimp and anemones. Thank you to Aqua Adventures for hiring us tanks, and to all our amazing volunteers who gave up their public holiday to help out. It is much appreciated as always. Reef Check Acknowledge the people of the Yugambeh language region of the Gold Coast, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project has received funding support from The City of Gold Coasts Catchment and Citizen Science Grants Program. Mudjimba Island - The Ledge survey The sun was out and the water was looking crystal clear, so with a full team and plenty to do, our Reef Check Australia volunteers headed out to one of their favourite locations in the whole of South East Queensland; Mudjimba Island. Site 1 at Mudjimba Ledge was set up as a long term monitoring site in 2007, and sits at just 4-5m of water, along the top of the reef. The site is dominated by encrusting hard coral, soft coral, anemones, plenty of corallimorphs and zooanthids and benthic invertebrates. The visibility was fantastic, with the team able to identify corals from the surface, at over 10m deep. The site was teeming with fish (as usual) and turtles resting and making their way along our transect. Moray eels, nudibranchs and sea stars were spotted between lobsters and wobbegongs. This site is truly one of the most species dense areas along the length of South East Queensland. Soft corals, encrusting hard corals and a variety of sponges, ascidians and algaes made up the substrate, along with rock with turf algae and calcareous algae which acts like a cement to hold the reef together. Drupella snails (a coral eating snail) were found on every transect, often in small patches of high number. Coral disease was recorded. Bleaching was also observed on all transects, with up to 10% of the population being bleached. Butterflyfish, snapper, turtles and wobbegongs were all recorded on transect. The water temperature had dropped a couple of degrees in just over a day, illustrating that cold weather is starting to come in. Time to make sure you get some clear water diving in whilst you can! Thank you to Blue Tortuga Adventures for getting us to site. These vital reef health surveys are not possible without our amazing volunteers, so thankyou for all that you do! Reef Check Acknowledge the Kabi Kabi people of the Sunshine Coast, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place, and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project is supported by the Sunshine Coast Council’s Environmental Levy Partnerships Grant. Nurture Festival - Lake Kawana What a beautiful excuse to get out and about, enjoy the sunshine and meet so many new people! The Reef Check Australia team set up a gorgeous, captivating stall at the Nurture Festival at Lake Kawana in May this year. This annual family friendly event provides a safe space for young people and their families to have important conversations about mental health and wellbeing. As visitors meandered through the festival grounds, enjoying the live music and inspirational speakers they were drawn to our vibrant stall and the passionate volunteers of Reef Check Australia. The stall was adorned with informative posters, a green screen and knowledgeable volunteers who enthusiastically shared insights on the current state of Australia's reefs, the threats they face, and the collaborative efforts underway to protect these delicate ecosystems. The green screen provided the opportunity for some fun, with one background image proving the most popular. Attendees left the stall inspired and empowered, armed with a deeper understanding of the urgent need to safeguard Australia's reefs for future generations. The Reef Check Australia stall was a focal point of the Nurture Festival, showcasing the organisation's commitment to preserving and nurturing the mesmerizing underwater worlds that grace the Australian coastline. Reef Check Acknowledge the Kabi Kabi people, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place, and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. Our attendance at this festival is made possible by funding support from the Sunshine Coast Council’s Environment Levy Partnership Grant. Great Barrier Reef Fitzroy Island Land and Underwater Clean Up The strong wind warnings cancelled one of our trips to Fitzroy earlier in the month, so as soon as the weather turned favourable, a tiny but mighty team of three headed to site in mid-May as part of our collaboration with Tangaroa Blue's ReefClean project. Great Barrier Reef team leaders Jenni and Aimee were joined by reef health surveyor in training; Bec, for an underwater clean-up, as well as a beach clean-up on the beautiful Fitzroy Island, off Cairns. The team started off the day with a morning walk across Welcome Bay collecting rubbish from the beach and talking with visitors about marine debris, data collection and the Australian Marine Debris Initiative. After collating and recording their findings, the dive team jumped in the water with scuba cylinders supplied by our friends at Reef Restoration Foundation and Fitzroy Island resort and conducted an underwater clean-up focusing on the areas under the public boat moorings. Glass bottles, aluminium cans, fishing line and a pair of underwear were found around this well utilised area. The location was chosen due to its high use, and identification as a marine debris hot spot during previous visits to the island. The ReefClean project is funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and delivered by Tangaroa Blue Foundation and a number of partner organisations including Reef Check Australia Reef Check Australia acknowledge the Gimuy Walubara Yidinji people of Fitzroy Island (also known as Koba or Gabar) as the Traditional Owners of the land and sea country where these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. Nelly Bay Underwater and Land Clean up Co-Exist Australia joined forces with Reef Check Australia to undertake a marine debris event at Nelly Bay, Magnetic Island in late May. A team of 20 volunteers partook in collecting marine debris along the 1500m stretch of beach, as well as in water with both divers and snorkellers cleaning up the local reefs. During our event we came across some locals who walk this beach daily, and are regularly picking up debris. Despite this amazing commitment from locals , we still collected a total of 406 items, and not surprisingly half of this was hard plastic pieces (214 pieces). Other items collected included plastic cups from the nearby accommodation, cigarette butts (26), a lighter and a vape, and 11 clothing items. Underwater, our divers and snorkellers collected 25 items, consisting of remnants of soft plastics, hard plastics, glass, aluminium cans and paper. In addition to this, we also collected an additional 420 pieces of hard plastic from the degrading tactile strips at the bus stop adjacent to the beach which were breaking apart and spreading plastic into the surrounding scrubland. This project is supported by Tangaroa Blue through ReefClean; a project funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust. ReefClean is a project to remove and reduce marine debris impacting the Great Barrier Reef We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on where these activities take place, the Wulgurukaba people. We pay our respects to their elders, past, present and emerging and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples living in our community today. Our Townsville event A small team held a stall at the Our Townsville event in early June, an annual event with a huge range of local exhibitors. Being such a diverse community event, we had people from all ages and backgrounds (environmental or not) visiting our stall. The majority of people we spoke to at our stall had never heard of Reef Check Australia, so it was a great opportunity to inform locals who we are and the work we do in the area to protect our local reefs. Many expressed their interest in becoming involved with Reef Check, with people signing up for our eNewsletter and to express their interest in becoming an ambassador, surveyor, or to participate in local clean ups. We hope to see some of these new faces at our next event! We also acknowledge the Bindal and Wulgurukaba People, the traditional custodians of the land on which this event took place, and their elders past, present and emerging. Thankyou to Townsville City Council for organising this event. Our attendance at this event was made possible by funding support from Townsville City Council through the Creek to Coral program.     Brain Food Reviews and details on books, documentaries, and podcasts that we have come across, & wanted to share. If I had an Octopus by Gabby Dawnay. A great bedtime story for the little ones. Many Things Under a Rock - The Mysteries of Octopuses by David Scheel. Written by a marine biologist with a lifelong preoccupation with octopuses. Only out this month and looks amazing, let us know if you read this one and give us a review. Current Coral Affairs Check out some of the latest news and research about our ocean Studying Marine Life with Seaweed-Based Soft Robots Biodegradable, edible, bendible soft robots? Yes it is a thing! Read in: Innovation Hub Fossil records hold clues about modern-day marine ecology Read in: Popular Science Marine Sponges don't like it too hot either! Sponges are turning white and dying when the water gets too hot, but why? Read now: AIMS information centre Get with the Program Here's what we've got coming up in the next few weeks, keep checking the website for more updates.  8 August | Coast to Corals - Movement and Diet of Tiger Sharks with PJ Ikpe. Register now: Reef Check Calendar 12 August | Whale Festival, Justin Park, Burleigh Heads. Free event. Visit their website for more details. 29 Sept - 1 Oct | Caloundra Music Festival - tickets available now: https://caloundramusicfestival.com/ If you missed any of our Coast to Coral online events, remember you can always catch-up by taking a look at our YouTube Channel here     Thanks for reading! If you want to help our work to empower more people to protect Australian reefs, please consider making a monthly tax-deductible donation.    Make a Donation   Copyright © 2023 Reef Check Australia, All rights reserved.You have received this newsletter because you have given Reef Check Australia your email address. If you would prefer not to receive any further emails, please click the unsubscribe link in your email.Our mailing address is: Reef Check Australia PO Box 782, Mooloolaba, QLD, 4557Australia
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Around the Reef - Reef Check Australia - July 2023

July 11, 2023
Dear {{recipient.first_name_or_friend}}  Can you believe it is already half way through winter and 2023? Our SEQ teams have been busy doing clean-ups (both above and below the water) and undertaking reef health surveys, whilst our GBR teams have been busy hosting stalls whilst we wait for our next round of surveys to begin. We would also like to say a BIG welcome to our new subscribers and stay tuned for our next Reef Ambassador and Reef Health Surveyor Training Courses. We hope to finalise dates for these shortly. This months email includes: Action of the Month: Plastic Free July News from the Field Brain Food Current Coral Affairs Get With the Program Plastic Free July. Lets chat about Plastic Free July! If you haven't heard of this campaign before, it's a movement that started in Australia in 2011 and has grown into a global initiative to raise awareness about plastic pollution and encourage people to reduce their plastic usage. The idea behind Plastic Free July is to challenge individuals to make small changes in their daily habits to reduce their plastic consumption. For example, instead of using single-use plastic items like straws, plastic bags, and water bottles, participants are encouraged to use reusable alternatives. Reducing plastic consumption can be super overwhelming at first, but its all about starting small. Start using a reusable water bottle. Say no to single use coffee cups and either sit down, or BYO keep cup. Carry a reusable shopping bag, and choose naked products. These choices are not hard. they are all there for us to make. It's about making conscious choices that moves away from plastic convenience, and actively choosing to steer clear of single use plastic. So our Action of the Month for July is this; Try Plastic Free July for yourself. Start with 1 day and see how you go. Nailed it? Go for another. Each of these actions is a ripple, and together, ripples create waves. And remember to share your wins and fails. Lets share our experience, and hot tips. The impact of Plastic Free July may seem small at first, but it can have a significant impact when we all participate. By making conscious choices to reduce our plastic consumption, we can help protect our environment and preserve our planet for future generations. Ready to check it out? Head to https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/ to sign up, to find out more and to be inspired! And if you need a reusable cup, bag or beeswax wrap.. head on over to the Reef Check Australia page and get ready for the month in style! http://www.reefcheckaustralia.org/seastore News from the field Stories and updates from our teams out & about. Check out some of these regional stories on our website! South East Queensland Caloundra Outrigger Club Underwater Clean Up During summer the Reef Check Australia team took the opportunity to clean up one of our in water clean up locations in Caloundra; the Outrigger. This site has been previously identified as a marine debris hotspot due to its location along the river and the small rocky groin or pier capturing much debris as the tides moved back and forth. The site is also a popular fishing location, resulting in fishing debris often being found throughout the site. This site sits south of our Bulcock Beach clean up location, also inside the Caloundra bar. The area has changed significantly over the last few months, due to the breakthrough occurring on Bribie Island.  We knew it would be an interesting spot to go back to visit after all these changes, so the team was excited to go and check it out. The site has changed substantially since we last visited. Due to the ongoing rain and wind, we have had of late, the visibility was less than previously seen at the site, with the area covered in a layer of silt, making it important to keep an eye on the estuary floor in case of stonefish and the like.  Several fish, prawns and even an eel was spotted amongst the fishing tackle and lures underwater.  A broken and discarded crab pot was removed (it had no identifying markers, no name and no number as required) and several cans, bottles and shards of glass were found from below the water. Above the water we had four more people join in, showing that beach clean ups can be a great family-based activity if done safely. Cigarette butts, bottle caps, fishing debris and light weight plastic made up the majority of our findings. A total of 8kg from below the water and an additional 2kg of lightweight items (totalling more than 450 individual items) were removed from this well utilised area in just over an hour of cleaning up. Remember, every little bit counts.  If you see rubbish on the beach; pick it up.  Together, we can and will make an ocean of difference. Reef Check Acknowledge the Kabi Kabi people of the Sunshine Coast, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project has received funding support from the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action grant program. Green Island -  Summer Reef Health Survey Moreton Bay put on a mighty fine show this April, with gorgeous sunny days, calm waters and beautiful clarity! With temperatures dropping above and below the surface, the Reef Check Australia team headed out to conduct a summer reef health survey at Green Island West to document any changes to the reef in the area since last we visited. Reef Check Australia has been monitoring Southeast Queensland reefs since 2007, and Green Island (Danggar) Island since 2017, as part of a partnership with Port of Brisbane to monitor the effects of activities in the Bay. These locations are monitored twice a year (summer and winter) to detect any seasonal changes. Green Island; a low flat wooded coral cay 2km in length and 1km wide is located 5km from Wynnum Esplanade, and has quite the fascinating history. For a detailed history, see our previous posts on the island, or check out this link for some fascinating info: https://thecommunityleader.com.au/community-news/local-history/green-islands-fascinating-history/ Reef Check Australia has two long term monitoring sites around the island.  This site; West is towards the West of the island (fancy that!) and has coral bommies interspersed throughout the area. The site was beautifully clear for this time of year, with up to 6m of visibility. There was a high layer of silt covering much of the substrate. A nutrient Indicator Algae called Lobophora was found covering large portions of the area, with several bleached hard corals recorded; similar to Green Island North. A single butterfly fish was recorded at this site. Overall the site continues to surprise us with a diverse array of corals and other substrates found here, and we highly recommend checking the site out for yourselves! We look forward to heading out again in a few months to continue monitoring any changes that might occur as a part of this long term monitoring program. Thankyou to Go Dive Brisbane for getting us to our reef health monitoring site. We appreciate that many of the sites we visit are not regularly on the tourist circuit, although we believe they should be! Reef Check Acknowledge the Quandamooka people, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. This project is supported by the Port of Brisbane as a part of their environmental monitoring program.     Inner Gneerings - Reef Health Surveys With wind forecast to hit later in the afternoon, the Reef Check Australia team headed out to the Inner Gneerings first thing in the morning to survey our sites at The Caves. The Inner Gneerings reef is located offshore from Mooloolaba and is a popular diving and fishing location, with depths ranging from 10m to 25m.  Reef Check Australia has been monitoring site 1 for reef health since 2009. The site can be heavily impacted by Asparagopsis algae during the warmer months, however lower levels than usual were observed on this trip, much to the delight of our surveyors. The site consists of rock with turf algae and scattered hard corals, predominantly the encrusting growth forms, and soft corals. Whilst we observed coral bleaching on all transects, at only 1% of the population, levels were low. Reef Check Australia has been monitoring Site 2 for reef health since 2013. This site is located in proximity to Site 1 but was set up to gain a greater understanding of the health of this highly utilised reef area. Similar to Site 1, the site consists of rock with turf algae and scattered hard corals, predominantly the encrusting type, soft corals and encrusting sponges. Whilst we observed coral bleaching on three transects, at only 1% of the population, levels were low. We also observed low levels of coral damage, disease and scars. Plenty of Asparagopsis, a seasonal macro algae was also found at this site. Thank you to @‌bluetortugua Adventures for getting us to site and to all our volunteers. These vital reef health surveys are not possible without our amazing volunteers, so thankyou for all that you do! Reef Check Acknowledge the Kabi Kabi people of the Sunshine Coast, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place, and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project is supported by the Sunshine Coast Council’s Environmental Levy Partnerships Grant.       Peel Island - Beach Clean Up Another gorgeous winter day in Moreton Bay, allowing he Reef Check Australia team to take full advantage of it, and head to Peel Island for a beach clean up. The island is popular with locals and visitors alike, with the island often utilised as a beach stop, as evidenced by many items of food debris found strewn around the area. This site was selected as it has been previously identified as a marine debris hot spot, and most likely to accumulate debris due to the bays shape. This activity forms part of a wider program to look at the ongoing impacts of the floods in early 2022, in addition to documenting the rate of attrition of marine debris in the area due to boating and fishing. Approximately 10 kilograms of debris was removed from a 7000m2 area, with hard plastic, soft plastic, plastic bottle lids, aluminium foil and polystyrene being the most common items found. Single use cutlery and balloon string were found amongst lures, fishing line, toothbrushes, old clothing items, a fishing net and construction debris. Construction debris is regularly found at many of our clean up locations along the length of South East Queensland, with much appearing to come from up river. Reef Check Acknowledge the Quandamooka people, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project has received funding support from the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action grant program.       Great Barrier Reef Eco Fiesta Cairns Overnight rain didn’t dampen the spirits at the Cairns Eco Fiesta on Sunday 4 June 2023, with huge crowds coming out to visit the myriad of stalls with exhibitors covering everything from the Reef to the Rainforest. A fantastic range of food and beverage options kept the crowd nourished as they enjoyed the live entertainment and workshops. Our team were kept very busy with a constant flow of families, young people and the not so young quizzing our volunteers on the health of the reef, who Reef Check Australia are, and what we do. A small reef survey display gave a visual representation of how we do what we do and provided a great chance to quiz our younger visitors on which items should not be there on the “reef”, with the majority correctly identifying the items we look out for. Our team used this opportunity to explain the dangers of plastic in the environment and how easy it was for them to help simply by collecting rubbish when they see it on the beach. Strong interest was garnered for our next ambassador and survey diver training courses, whilst many people expressed an interest in helping out at future clean-up events. We certainly hope to see these people again! Our attendance at this event was made possible by support from Cairns Regional Council’s Community Sustainability Grant.   \    Low Isles Underwater Clean up What better way to spend National Volunteer Week than diving the Great Barrier Reef to collect marine debris and data! In mid May, a team from Townsville and Cairns travelled to Port Douglas to head out to Low Isles for our annual underwater clean up as part of the Tangaroa Blue ReefClean project. Although local tourism operators visit this location daily taking many tourists to visit this part of the Great Barrier Reef, we were pleased to find minimal debris at this location. Divers found 14 pieces of debris in total, and these were all found within close proximity to the public moorings. The most common finds were glass items, including beer bottles, jars, and an unopened bottle of wine! Divers also found a reef anchor, which has been passed on to be reused. We would like to say a massive thank you to Wavedancer Low Isles for the ongoing support to our charity! Thank you giving us spots on your vessel to reach this location, supplying scuba tanks and to all of your amazing crew for all of their assistance and generosity throughout the day! The ReefClean project is funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and delivered by Tangaroa Blue Foundation and a number of partner organisations including Reef Check Australia. Reef Check Acknowledge the KuKu Yalanji and Yiragandi people of the Low Isles as the Traditional Owners of the land and sea country where these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. Brain Food Reviews and details on books, documentaries, and podcasts that we have come across, & wanted to share. Weird and Wonderful World of Marine Worms: Tropical Indo-Pacific by Andrey Ryansky. One of a number of amazing ID books by Andrey Ryansky, available in pdf, hardcover and paperback.   Current Coral Affairs Check out some of the latest news and research about our ocean 'Catastrophic': Decade of loss on Australian reefs paints grim picture in new study. Work must ramp up to protect what is uniquely Australian Read in: 7 News Credit: Alison Godfrey/AAP Striped Pyjama Squid is never going back to the office Read in: Australian Geographic Striped pyjama squid (Sepioloidea lineolata). Image credit: Alexius Sutandio/shutterstock Get with the Program Here's what we've got coming up in the next few weeks, keep checking the website for more updates.  11 July | Coast to Corals - TBA - due to the Australian Marine Sciences Association Annual conference being held in the first week of July, we have postponed this months talk - stay tuned for details. 12 August | Whale Festival, Justin Park, Burleigh Heads. Free event. Visit their website for more details. If you missed any of our Coast to Coral online events, remember you can always catch-up by taking a look at our YouTube Channel here     Thanks for reading! If you want to help our work to empower more people to protect Australian reefs, please consider making a monthly tax-deductible donation.    Make a Donation   Copyright © 2023 Reef Check Australia, All rights reserved.You have received this newsletter because you have given Reef Check Australia your email address. If you would prefer not to receive any further emails, please click the unsubscribe link in your email.Our mailing address is: Reef Check Australia PO Box 782, Mooloolaba, QLD, 4557Australia
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Around the Reef - Reef Check Australia - June 2023

June 01, 2023
Dear {{recipient.first_name_or_friend}}  Winter is fast approaching and water temperatures are dropping.  Our teams have been busy doing surveys, clean ups and attending events with lots more coming up in the very near future. Check out "Get with the Program" below to see where we are going to be in the next month or so. We have also done so many activities in the last few months that we can't fit them all in each newsletter so are including a few past events in here. This months email includes: Action of the Month: A chance to give back. News from the Field Brain Food Current Coral Affairs Get With the Program A chance to give back! National Volunteer week in May (15-21) celebrated the hundreds of thousands of volunteers donating millions of dollars’ worth of in-kind support to their favourite charities. For not-for-profit organisations the world over, volunteers make up an invaluable part of the workforce enabling groups to truly make stuff happen. Volunteers are the backbone of not-for-profits. Groups like Reef Check Australia depend on the passion and dedication of volunteers to help get stuff done. There is always so much to do, and limited time to do it all in, which is why volunteers are absolutely so vital! We know that volunteering allows people to connect with each other and causes you care about, which can be incredibly fulfilling both professionally and personally. It allows you the opportunity to learn new skills, meet new people and make a positive impact on the environment and community around you. So for June, our Action of the Month is to think about how a local charity, or not-for-profit or community group or even a family or friend group has supported you to learn a new skill, to get back on your feet, to connect with new friends, to increase your social network, or get you out in nature. And when you think about these groups/friends/family; how can you offer support in return? The last couple of years have been tricky for everyone, and a lot of not-for-profit groups have seen a decrease in volunteer rates due to increased busy-ness, and changes in life. Maybe you are an active volunteer, or maybe you were (AKA; a sleeper agent waiting to be reactivated). Maybe life has gotten in the way of late (hey, we aren’t judging, it's happened to us all!) and volunteering isn’t a priority any more. OR  MAYBE you are looking for a gentle nudge to say hey.. we see you. We appreciate you and we need you. Well. If so.. this is the sign you have been looking for. Junes Action of the Month is to think of a way that you can support those around you. It might be friends or family, or it might be a local charity. It might even be us (wink wink).  We are always looking for new ways to get more people involved, to get people in the water, and helping clean up our coastlines. Or maybe time is still a little scarce at the moment, but you have money you would like to put to a good cause (all donations are tax deductible!) If you think you can help with time, or money; please, get in touch. News from the field Stories and updates from our teams out & about. Check out some of these regional stories on our website! South East Queensland Gold Coast Volunteering Collective On 9th March, Reef Check Australia attended the Gold Coast Volunteering Collective at the Broadbeach Cultural Centre. This was a fantastic event for volunteering organisations to collaborate, discuss issues, share information and to learn from each other. Local community groups and organizations working with volunteers came together and collaborated, discussed current volunteer sector pressures, generated awesome ideas and ate yummy morning tea! The interactive morning included: An update and discussion on the Gold Coasts Volunteering program of works; A panel presentation led by local oganisations The Benevolent Society (Philomena Baumann), Radio Lollipop (Mathew MacDonald) and Volunteering Gold Coast (Brad Cooper) who shared key learnings form the 2023 National Volunteering Conference; and A facilitated workshop and group discussion, that identified the priorities for the sector and future collective actions. The morning was a fun filled event where Reef Check Australia came away with some new collaborative partnerships and lots of new inspiring ideas – watch this space for some exciting future Gold Coast Reef Check projects! Thankyou to City of Gold Coast for the opportunity, and to Toni Massey, long term volunteer for attending the event, and for sharing her experience.   Beach Clean Up - Main Beach, Gold Coast A group of Reef Check Australia volunteers took advantage of the beautiful weather to complete a beach clean up at Main Beach, Gold Coast. The team visited a beautiful stretch of beach between Surfer’s Paradise and the Spit on Tuesday 18th April. Given that this region is in close proximity to a developed shoreline, packed with restaurants, pubs, shops and apartment buildings, it is prone to littering and industrial waste disposal. A total of 1.5 kg consisting of over 50 items of litter was removed from a relatively short stretch of coastline. Most items were in relatively good condition which indicates they were disposed of quite recently and were likely to have been disposed of by residents and tourists in the area. In particular, there were a large number of takeaway cups and paper straws collected, likely from nearby cafes and shops. Overall, the most common items on the clean-up were takeaway containers, straws and plastic wrappers. Hard plastics, glass bottles, cans, shorts, shoes and baby wipes were just some of the items that were also removed from the beach. These items are commonly found amongst marine debris clean-ups Australia wide, as they are used on a daily basis and easily transported across oceans by rain, swell, wind & currents. It was encouraging to note that very few small/micro pieces of plastic were observed. Remember, every little bit counts. If you see rubbish on the beach, pick it up and dispose of it in the correct bins. Together, we can and will make an ocean of difference! Reef Check Acknowledge the Yugambeh people of the Gold Coast, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project has received funding support from The City of Gold Coasts Catchment and Citizen Science Grants Program.   Gold Coast Seaway - Underwater Clean Up What better way to celebrate Easter than with an underwater clean up! Well, that’s what this team of clean up divers thought , and with the gorgeous weather and clear waters after a long weekend of the Gold Coast Seaway south West Wall being used heavily for the easter holidays, it was the perfect time to check out how this interesting and heavily impacted site was holding up. A team of five including two surface watch and three trained volunteer divers completed an underwater clean up along approximately 120m of rocky scree, sand and seagrass to cover 1200m2 of area in approximately 90 minutes. This area has been monitored and cleaned up regularly by a variety of different dive groups over the years, and by Reef Check Australia since 2007, as funds allow. This site, despite being so heavily used, is often home to a wide variety of animals including large numbers of fish, urchins, nudibranchs and even seahorses. We found plenty of collector sea urchins; many holding onto some of the lightweight plastic items we were targeting, as well as a few nudibranchs and lots of fish. 119 pieces of fishing line averaging 3m in length (that’s more than 350m of fishing line!), plus lures and sinkers etc were removed amongst pieces of lightweight plastic from the remains of plastic shopping bags. Remember, every little bit counts. Pick up rubbish when you see it, and please dispose of fishing line and debris safely in the bins provided. Thankyou to the volunteers who helped out! We cannot do this without you. Reef Check Acknowledge the Yugambeh people of the Gold Coast, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project has received funding support from the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action grant program.    Gold Coast Seaway - Survey Dive Braving the crowds that can always be found utilising this popular Gold Coast area, our team of trained volunteer divers headed to the Gold Coast Seaway to undertake our annual surveys. The site at the pipe was established in 2015 after initially conducting a clean-up dive and discovering the diversity of organisms and substrates at this site, and the potential for change over time. The site was established to better document the impacts this heavily utilised site faces from anthropogenic activities, in particular fishing. This site is located within the broadwater and is a very popular spot for fishing, boating, diving, snorkelling and swimming, with a set of steps making access to the water easy. Our survey site at the pipe runs parallel to the rock wall, as opposed to the more popular dive option of heading across the channel under the pipe.  Visibility was excellent with the substrate dominated by rock with turf algae reaching a sandy base. Despite the unassuming appearance of the substrate, the site hosts a variety of marine organisms including tunicates, hydroids, sponges, nudibranchs and a variety of fish, including lionfish and stonefish. Our team recorded a small number of soft corals, and a number of target fish including butterflyfish, grouper, moray eels, snapper, and sweetlips. Invertebrates recorded include collector urchins, lobster, and banded coral shrimp. A stingray was also spotted passing the transect line on more than one occasion. Thank you to Aqua Adventures for hiring us tanks, and to all our amazing volunteers who gave up their public holiday to help out. Your assistance is much appreciated as always. Reef Check Acknowledge the people of the Yugambeh language region of the Gold Coast, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project has received funding support from The City of Gold Coasts Catchment and Citizen Science Grants Program. Sunshine Coast - Mudjimba Island - Survey Dives With winds forecast to be favourable, the Reef Check Australia team was excited to jump in at Mudjimba Island and check out the deepest site on the southern side of the island and North-west Reef on the opposite side of the island. Reef Check Australia has been monitoring Mudjimba for reef health since 2013. The southern site sits at around 9m and is located on the reef slope dominated by encrusting hard coral, soft coral, anemones and other benthic invertebrates. The north-west reef hosts a variety of organisms but is not as heavily utilised as the south side. Visibility was great, always a welcome surprise!  On the southern side, salps were found throughout the water column, and all over the boat before we diligently released each and every one back to the ocean. The substrate consists of rock with turf algae and scattered hard and soft corals, along with calcareous algae which acts like a cement to hold the reef together. We observed coral bleaching on all transects, but at only 1% of the population, levels were low. We recorded a few butterflyfish and a wobbegong shark, with a Triton shell observed off transect. These molluscs are a known predator of the Crown-of-Thorns Starfish so it is always great to see them protecting our reefs. On north-west reef, we observed some coral bleaching on the first two transects, but at only 2% of the population, levels were low. Our team were excited to find several large spider conch shells and a variety of sea stars and nudibranchs. Thank you to Blue Tortugua Adventures for getting us to site and a big thank you to our surveyor Lucy Wells for getting back into it and to one of our GBR Team Leaders, Jenni Calcraft for helping out even though she was on holidays. These vital reef health surveys are not possible without our amazing volunteers, so thankyou for all that you do! Reef Check Acknowledge the Kabi Kabi people of the Sunshine Coast, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place, and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project is supported by the Sunshine Coast Council’s Environmental Levy Partnerships Grant. Moreton Bay - Peel Island Underwater Clean Up The weather put on a show for the team in early April, allowing them to access Peel Island for an underwater clean up. Peel Island is a small, heritage-listed island and national park located in Moreton Bay, just 4km from the mainland at Cleveland. The island is known for its natural beauty and wildlife enjoyed by locals and visitors alike and is accessed only by boat or watercraft.  The island has an interesting history. To read all about it, check out some of our previous posts. The island is a popular fishing and area, with tens of boats often anchored in Horseshoe Bay due to the area offering protection from many winds, and a safe spot to swim.  This site was selected as it has been previously identified as a hot spot. Sitting close to Platypus wreck, and close to a beach entry point, this area is commonly used. Due to the large number of people visiting the area, it is often littered with fishing debris as well as additional recreational items. This activity forms part of a wider program to look at the ongoing impacts of the floods in early 2022, in addition to documenting the rate of attrition of marine debris in the area due to boating and fishing. Approximately 10 kilograms of debris was removed from a 400m2 area, including 6 glass bottles, approximately 35meters of fishing line, several lures and sinkers, pieces of broken glass, metal shards and a long rope. A large metal structure was located; which looked to be a piece of a boat, however this was left in place due to the amount of coral growth on the structure. With larger amounts of the reef suffering large impacts due to the floods and recent storms, we want to ensure live coral remains that way. Reef Check Acknowledge the Quandamooka people, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project has received funding support from the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action grant program.   Brain Food Reviews and details on books, documentaries, and podcasts that we have come across, & wanted to share. Marine Plants of Australia by John Huisman. Do you know your algae?? Check out this handy reference guide. How to speak Whale by Tom Mustill sounds like an enthralling read. Tom had a hump back whale land on his kayak - this would certainly make your day interesting!!. Current Coral Affairs Check out some of the latest news and research about our ocean Plastic Rocks Found On Remote Volcanic Island Are A "Terrifying” Discovery At first, scientists couldn’t identify the strange bluish-green rocks so they ran chemical tests on them and… oh. Read in: IFL Science Sea cucumbers have a Spiderman-esque superpower—and it involves their butts Mess with the cuke, get the goop. Read in: Popular Science Scientists discover pristine deep-sea Galápagos reef ‘teeming with life’ Diving to 600m, researchers find reefs full of octopus, lobster and fish, raising hopes for corals’ survival amid rising sea temperatures Read now: Guardian News Get with the Program Here's what we've got coming up in the next few weeks, keep checking the website for more updates.  2-4 June | Pranafest - Borumba deer Park. For more information and tickets head to https://www.pranafest.com.au/ 4 June | EcoFiesta Cairns - Come visit our team - see here for more details 4 June | LEAF - Griffith Uni Campus Meadowbook - click here for more details 6 June | Coast to Corals - Crown of Thorns Management - Register Here: 11 June | Our Townsville Event - Check out this great event - for more details head to What's on Townsville If you missed any of our Coast to Coral online events, remember you can always catch-up by taking a look at our YouTube Channel here     Thanks for reading! If you want to help our work to empower more people to protect Australian reefs, please consider making a monthly tax-deductible donation.    Make a Donation   Copyright © 2023 Reef Check Australia, All rights reserved.You have received this newsletter because you have given Reef Check Australia your email address. If you would prefer not to receive any further emails, please click the unsubscribe link in your email.Our mailing address is: Reef Check Australia PO Box 782, Mooloolaba, QLD, 4557Australia
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Around the Reef - Reef Check Australia - May 2023

May 30, 2023
Dear {{recipient.first_name_or_friend}}  Whilst our teams in the GBR have been a little quiet in the last month, our SEQ teams have been busy completing surveys and clean-ups before the latest round of windy weather arrived.  This months email includes: Action of the Month: Mindfulness in May News from the Field Brain Food Current Coral Affairs Get With the Program Mindfulness in May How have you spent your time today?  Did you invest it? Did you spend it? Did you waste it away? Each and every one of us has 86,400 seconds each and every day. Just think; if each day you were given $86,400.00 to spend, but at midnight the balance went to $0.. what would you do? You would spend as much as you could, each day, right? Well, TIME is more precious than any amount of money, so why do we spend so much of it doing things that don't fulfill us? Take some time to think about your daily 86,400 seconds; Where is your time being used? If you don’t like what you see.. change it. which brings us to this months action of the month; Be mindful of where you allocate your time. No one wants to end up regretting their decisions at the end of their life. So, work hard, but play harder. Spend time with friends, family, loved ones. Go on that adventure. Learn that new skill. Have courage to do the things you want to do and don’t wait until ‘X’ happens to allow yourself to live. And whilst we are on the topic of mindfulness.. Reef Check Australia is the charity partner with a fabulous group called the Flow State Experience who run PRANAFEST- a 3 day wellness festival on the Sunshine Coast, (this year June 2-5). This event is full of amazing experiences designed to encourage connection back to yourself, to nature, and to the world around you. In short; its all about mindfulness. Living in the moment, and doing it surrounded by forest and water, and an array of experiences (yoga, dance, ice baths, breathwork, storytelling, star gazing, relaxing). So if you are looking for an opportunity to delve deeply into mindfulness.. we highly recommend checking it out! And for all our Reef Check Australia friends we have a SUPER SPECIAL discount code just for all of you… Head on over to Humanitix and enter REEFCHECKPRANA for your exclusive discount code!! The point is to start small. Understand where your 86,400 seconds of time and energy goes, and tweak it if it’s not right. Make a plan to meditate, to be present and watch how quickly your resilience grows.   News from the field Stories and updates from our teams out & about. Check out some of these regional stories on our website! South East Queensland La Balsa Park, Survey Dive Remembering the clearest water we had on our clean up dive, the Reef Check Australia team was excited to jump in and check out the site, and see how much it might have changed since our last reef health monitoring survey here. Reef Check Australia has been monitoring La Balsa as a reef health monitoring site in 2018 due to a growing interest in the area. Plenty of critters utilise this area as a nursery, and due to its location, the substrate and animals that live there change semi regularly. The water was certainly clear, with the substrate consisting of lots of rock with turf algae, sand, a few bryozoans, a macro algae called Padina, and several large solitary ascidians. We were lucky enough to spot two cleaner shrimp, two Drupella snails, and a collector urchin amongst plenty of fishing line along the transect (removed once counted, and if safe to do so). We also spotted several flatworms which we have never spotted in the area before. They are not new to the Sunshine Coast, but new to this area. Interestingly, we did not find any other flatworm or nudibranch along the transect area. We did however find a set of small turtle remains. Thankyou to Scuba World for the tanks and to our volunteer Kade Chambers who completed his first Reef Check Australia survey dive after completing his training late last year. We hope it’s the first of many! Reef Check Acknowledge the Kabi Kabi people of the Sunshine Coast, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. This project is supported by the Sunshine Coast Council’s Environmental Levy Partnerships Grant.   Moreton Bay - St Helena - Survey Dives Despite heavy rains in the lead up, Moreton Bay put on a show for our team, showing just how gorgeous the on-water conditions can be, meaning this tiny but mighty Reef Check Australia team was able to get out and conduct a summer reef health survey at Saint Helena Island, to document any changes to the reef in the area. Reef Check Australia has been monitoring Southeast Queensland reefs since 2007, and Saint Helena Island since 2017, as part of a partnership with Port of Brisbane to monitor the effects of activities in the Bay. These locations are monitored twice a year (summer and winter) to detect any seasonal changes. St Helena Island is located 5km from the mouth of the Brisbane River. The island itself has an interesting history. From 1867 it operated as a high security colonial prison, operating for 65 years as a self sufficient set up, complete with lime kiln, sugar refinery, a sugar cane plantation, and almost no native vegetation due to its removal early on. Reef Check Australia has two long term monitoring sites around the island. Ray of Sunshine, is towards the south east, and has a greater density of hard corals than Palindrome which is near the jetty, and has a patchy reef full of both hard and soft corals. Both sites were quite green underwater, although it was clearer at Ray of Sunshine than Palindrome. Ray of Sunshine has plenty of hard coral colonies, although on this particular occasion, there was a high number of bleached hard corals recorded. High silt loading was also recorded (over an inch deep!), as well as plenty of macro algae, although at this site it appeared to have more Padina than Sargassum. Palindrome had a high level of silt and purple filamentous nutrient indicator algae covering almost every surface. The macroalgae Sargassum also took up large areas of the site, offering refuge to a variety of marine creatures including a wobbegong, Drupella snails and a lobster.  A small amount of marine debris was recorded; mostly glass bottles. We look forward to heading out again in a few months to continue monitoring any changes that might occur as a part of this long term monitoring program. Thankyou to Go Dive Brisbane for getting us to our reef health monitoring site. We appreciate that many of the sites we visit are not regularly on the tourist circuit, although we believe they should be! Reef Check Acknowledge the Quandamooka people, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. This project is supported by the Port of Brisbane as a part of their environmental monitoring program.   Ray of Sunshine - Site Photo Palindrome - Soft Coral Peel Island - Land Based Clean Up The Reef Check Australia team headed out to Peel Island, Moreton Bay at the end of March to conduct a beach clean-up along Horseshoe Bay on Peel Island, Moreton Bay. Peel Island is a small, heritage-listed island and national park located in Moreton Bay, just 4km from the mainland at Cleveland. The island is known for its natural beauty and wildlife enjoyed by locals and visitors alike and is accessed only by boat or watercraft. Before European settlement, Peel Island was known to the local Quandamooka people as Teerk Roo Ra (Place of Many Shells). In the mid-19th century, Peel Island was used as a quarantine station for Brisbane. Incoming ships would stop at the island, disembark passengers for a quarantine period and be fumigated and scrubbed down before heading into Brisbane. At the start of the 20th century it was used as an asylum for vagrants, and then a sisal farm. Between 1907 and 1959 the island was a leper colony. Hundreds of people who contracted the disease were sent to the island. As the only intact example of a multiracial lazaret in Australia it is now a protected heritage site. In 2007, the island was declared as Teerk Roo Ra National Park and Conservation Park. Just over 8.5kgs of lightweight rubbish was collected in two hours from an 800m stretch of beach. Debris collected included paint lids, lots of plastic food packaging, pegs and alcohol containers. An additional 50kg of debris was also recorded and reported to local authorities to assist with removal, made up of metal sheets, wooden pallets, piles of rubbish bags including camping equipment, and building supplies. Remember, every little bit counts.  If you see rubbish on the beach; pick it up. Take away your own rubbish when you leave and together, we can and will make an ocean of difference. Reef Check Acknowledge the Quandamooka people, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project has received funding support from the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action grant program.    Amity Point, Stradbroke Island, Survey Dive With a forecast for potential heavy rain falls and storms leading up to the weekend of the survey, the team was watching the weather with eagle eyes and baited breath for the final call on if the survey would go ahead.  Safety is out number one priority for all our volunteers, so decisions are not made lightly when we choose to proceed or cancel. Contrary to the initial forecast, the team was greeted by perfect conditions at Amity Point. Light easterly winds, fine, sunny weather and 8m – 10m of underwater visibility! Amity Point is located on the northwest end of North Stradbroke Island, and is frequented by vast numbers of fishers, boaters and divers all year round. The site sits adjacent to a busy boat ramp and artificial rock wall near a popular camping and fishing ground. Whilst there is limited hard and soft coral, the site hosts extensive marine life including unusual creatures like cuttlefish and ghost pipefish. Our team consisted of 5 RCA members – including divers and a surface watch. We completed a reef health monitoring survey at Site 2. This site was set up in 2016 after we had conducted a clean-up, and recognised just how diverse this site is, and the importance of monitoring it long term. Plenty of wobbegong sharks were sighted on the transect plus dozens of diadema sea urchins, an octopus, banded coral shrimp and plenty of anemones with fish. Turf algae covered the site, and we found no nutrient indicator algae; a great sign. This site has an unexpected abundance of life but is heavily impacted by recreational fishing activities. Thanks to all the volunteers and organisers who made this trip a success! Reef Check acknowledges the Quandamooka people of Minjerribah, the Traditional Custodians of the land, sea and country on which these activities took place, and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project has received funding support from the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action grant program. Great Barrier Reef Hook Island Underwater and Land Based Clean Up  After postponing due to a forecast of strong winds over the easter weekend, our team was able to get out to Hook Island 2 days later in absolutely beautiful conditions. Our aim was to conduct an underwater and beach clean up at Luncheon Bay as part of Tangaroa Blue Foundation’s ReefClean project. Our team of divers and snorkellers were happy to find no rubbish underwater impacting the stunning reef in this location, despite the large number of boats in the area. Once we went ashore however, we did find a few items of plastic, including a foreign bleach bottle and the always present, single thong. The majority of the debris was weathered and thus likely to have been in the ocean for some time. Thanks to John at Whitsunday Paradise Explorer for making this happen so quickly after the postponement and getting us to site and Aquadive for supplying the tanks. These surveys were conducted on the traditional lands and sea country of the Ngaro People of the Whitsundays. We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians and their Elders past, present and emerging. This project is supported by Tangaroa Blue Foundation through ReefClean; a project funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust.  ReefClean is a project to remove and reduce marine debris impacting the Great Barrier Reef. Cowboys Community Corner and Toyota Hilux Kick Recently our organisation was delighted to host a stall in the Community Corner at the Queensland Country Bank Stadium for the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys match against the Gold Coast Titans. We were even more delighted to be given the opportunity to try to win some money for our organisation in the Cowboys Toyota Hilux Kick. This involves having one person be present for an interview in front of the stadium full of people and another person to kick a footy through the goal posts into the back of a “Toyota Hilux”. For each kick that makes it, $100 is donated to the organisation, up to a maximum of $1000. Luckily for us, we had two awesome volunteers who stepped up to the challenge. Our kicker nailed 9 goals within the allocated 60 seconds and the crowd learnt a little about who Reef Check Australia are, and what we do. To see our volunteers in action head to: Toyota Hilux Kick Round 4 We would like to thank the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys for this opportunity and our volunteers, Chris Hopper for doing the interview and Jordan Ivey for being an incredible kicker. We also acknowledge the Bindal and Wulgurukaba People, the traditional custodians of the land on which this event took place, and their elders past, present and emerging. Attendance at this event was made possible by support from Townsville City Council through their Creek to Coral program.   Brain Food Reviews and details on books, documentaries, and podcasts that we have come across, & wanted to share. Here are a couple of books that we have come across that sound interesting. If you do happen to read them - send us a line and let us know! Sound of the Sea by Cynthia Barnett: A history of seashells and the animals that make them. The Underworld: Journeys to the Depths of the Ocean by Susan Casey. Join Susan as she takes us on a journey through deep-sea exploration and the importance of this environment to our future. (Release due August 1).   Current Coral Affairs Check out some of the latest news and research about our ocean Have you ever seen a Sea Spider? Sea spiders are strange creatures, and the gangly lancer sea spider is one of the strangest of all Read in: Discover Wildlife What is marine cloud brightening? Check it out at: Great Barrier Reef Foundation   What are sea urchins? Check out this guide to the fascinating and strange, if somewhat prickly, creature that inhabits to sea floor.  Discover Wildlife - Sea Urchins Get with the Program Here's what we've got coming up in the next few weeks, keep checking the website for more updates.  2 May | Coast to Coral - Microbes and Coral Larval Settlement - register on our website, 6 May | Nurture Fest - an entertainment packed, alcohol free, family festival at Lake Kawana - Buy your tickets here 6 May | Underwater and Beach Clean Up - Alma Bay - Magnetic Island - contact [email protected] for details. 7 May | Underwater and Beach Clean Up - Nelly Bay - Magnetic Island - contact [email protected] for details. 4 June | EcoFiesta Cairns - Come visit our team - see here for more details 4 June | LEAF - Griffith Uni Campus Meadowbook - click here for more details If you missed any of our Coast to Coral online events, remember you can always catch-up by taking a look at our YouTube Channel here     Thanks for reading! If you want to help our work to empower more people to protect Australian reefs, please consider making a monthly tax-deductible donation.    Make a Donation   Copyright © 2023 Reef Check Australia, All rights reserved.You have received this newsletter because you have given Reef Check Australia your email address. If you would prefer not to receive any further emails, please click the unsubscribe link in your email.Our mailing address is: Reef Check Australia PO Box 782, Mooloolaba, QLD, 4557Australia
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Around the Reef - Reef Check Australia - April 2023

May 30, 2023
Dear {{recipient.first_name_or_friend}}  Our teams have been out and about doing clean-ups and surveys, hosting stalls and attending functions, we have so much news to report so read on. This months email includes: Action of the Month: Learn Something New News from the Field Brain Food Current Coral Affairs Get With the Program Learn Something New! When was the last time you learnt something new? Today? Yesterday? A year ago? With time seeming to speed up more and more each day, its easy to think about learning a new skill and then pushing it to the side when something more urgent comes along. But isn’t your continual growth urgent as well?  Just like a plant, if you aren’t growing.. you’re dying. And we want to make sure you have the nutrients; the skills and knowhow to take on the world. True growth is incremental, tiny bit by tiny bit. So we want to help you reach your life goals with our Action of the Month for April:  Learn Something New. The original quote “When you stop growing you start dying” (William S. Burroughs) might sound a little dire, but it’s also very true!  It’s hard to know where to start sometimes, but starting anything today is better than putting it off until tomorrow. Maybe you have always wanted to scuba dive (we know plenty of people who can help with that!), or want to start dancing, or do martial arts. Or maybe you want to become a tour guide, or learn how to start a bee hive in your backyard. The options are endless; it's your growth, your ‘bucket list’ of skills. So grab a notebook, write down all the things you want to learn, and pick one. Any one; and just start. And if its related to marine critters, reef health monitoring or community engagement amongst others; get in touch! We can help! Alternatively, start searching, sign up for a course, try out something new, and step by step, new habit by habit, all the things you learn and experience build your character and help you grow. News from the field Stories and updates from our teams out & about. Check out some of these regional stories on our website! South East Queensland La Balsa Park, Underwater clean-up With the water the clearest we have almost ever seen at La Balsa, the Reef Check Australia team was excited to jump in and check out the site, and remove as much debris as possible as a part of the extended efforts of the Clean Up for the Hatchlings event. Plenty of critters inhabit the area, and although it has changed over time with the amount of sand increased in parts, the area is still frequented by juvenile turtles, plenty of small fish (it is a nursery after all) and this year, lots of flatworms. As the team entered the water, a small snapper was spotted caught on a line, which was tangled around the algae covered rocks. The line was quickly cut, and the snapper swam off to land nearby and follow the divers along the transect area.  A reminder that when fishing, to try and remove as much of the line as possible. Approximately 6kg of fishing debris, plastic, lures, cans and bottles were removed from the site, at around 4-5m depth, just days after the snorkel team removed over 10kg from the shallower areas. Thankyou to Scuba World for supplying the tanks at short notice. When the weather and conditions are this great, we have to take advantage of them! Reef Check Acknowledge the Kabi Kabi people of the Sunshine Coast, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. This project is supported by the sunshine Coast Council’s Environmental Levy Partnerships Grant.   Bulcock Beach - Underwater Clean up Summer conditions are are full swing at the moment, with beautiful sunny days interspersed with wind and rain, meaning when conditions are as amazing as they were last month, the team takes action! A small dedicated team conducted an underwater cleanup at Bulcock Beach last month. An interesting site for many reasons, The Boardwalk at Bulcock Beach was surveyed for the first time in 2018 after an underwater clean up at the location recorded a variety of fish species, invertebrate species and benthic diversity; showcasing the site as a nursery for many species. Bulcock Beach is a popular coastal recreation area located to the south of Caloundra, and a popular recreational fishing site. The Reef Check Australia reef health monitoring site sits along a rock wall slope in approximately 4-5m depth. It is usually characterised by rock, razer clams, ascidians and sand. The site is also a nursery for a variety of fish species in the area. However this location sits inside the Caloundra bar, initially the only opening from Pumicestone passage to the open ocean. A few months ago a breakthrough occurred on Bribie island, creating a new opening, and completely changing the areas access. We knew it would be an interesting spot to go back to visit after all these changes, so the team was excited to go and check it out. The site has changed substantially, with everything being covered in a thick layer of silt. A few ascidians can be found scattered amongst bivalve covered rock, and plenty of fish species were located including several stonefish, a lionfish and a tiny scorpionfish. Plenty of debris was also recorded, however due to the increase in siltation resulting in decreased visibility only a small amount was removed. A total of 6kg consisting of glass bottles, soft plastic, a fishing rod and plenty of fishing lures and fishing line was removed. This site has long been identified as a marine debris hotspot, and as conditions improve, we aim to revisit the site. Remember, every little bit counts.  If you see rubbish on the beach; pick it up.  Together, we can and will make an ocean of difference. Reef Check Acknowledge the Kabi Kabi people of the Sunshine Coast, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project has received funding support from the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action grant program.   Mud Island, Surveys Moreton Bay put on a show for our surveyors, showing just how gorgeous the on-water conditions can be! Despite heavy rains over the preceding few weeks, the day was beautiful and calm on the surface. Below the water, conditions were a little green, but clear enough to allow the Reef Check Australia team to safely monitor key sites for reef health, this time we headed to Mud Island; Rubble Patch and Coral Galore to document any changes since our last survey in Winter; 6 months ago. Reef Check Australia has been monitoring Southeast Queensland reefs since 2007, and Mud Island since 2017, as part of a partnership with Port of Brisbane to monitor the effects of activities in the Bay. These locations are monitored twice a year (summer and winter) to detect any seasonal changes that might be occurring. At Coral Galore a moderate amount of silt covered the site, limiting visibility in some areas. An array of bivalves including some of the biggest razor clams we have ever seen, and cockle shells were found, along with several Drupella snails (a coral eating snail). Of interest, none of the Drupella snails were found on coral. A species of butterflyfish never recorded at this site (by us) was also found (an Eastern Talma; Chelmonops truncatus) amongst a variety of other butterfly fish (such as the beaked butterflyfish; Chelmon rostratrus). Nudibranchs and flatworms were found amongst the hard and soft coral. The site had a high amount of Nutrient Indicator Algae (NIA); mostly Lobophora, and seasonal macroalgae; Sargassum and Padina. The site is still full of life (always a great sign!) despite the recent rains. At Rubble Patch silt also covered this site, although slightly less than Coral Galore. The silt and large amounts of macro algae (predominately Sargassum) led to limited visibility in some areas on the survey. Several Drupella snails (a coral eating snail), also not sitting on any live coral were recorded. Caleurpa patches (a green algae) were recorded along with a tiny flatworm and even tinier nudibranch. We look forward to heading out again in a few months to continue monitoring any changes that might occur as a part of this long term monitoring program. Thankyou to Go Dive Brisbane for getting us to our reef health monitoring site. We appreciate that many of the sites we visit are not regularly on the tourist circuit, although we believe they should be! Reef Check Acknowledge the Quandamooka people of Bangamba (Mud island), Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. This project is supported by the Port of Brisbane as a part of their environmental monitoring program. Soft coral at Coral Galore Drupella Snail Main Beach, Stradbroke Island, Clean Up Australia Day The beginning of March brings about Clean Up Australia Day! For south-east Queensland, volunteers headed over to Minjerribah west of Brisbane to tackle the marine debris hidden along the long eastern beach. The coast spreads 38km long, and hosts a diverse geomorphological landscape. From fresh "baby dunes" to blow-outs connected into swamps, the dynamic ecosystem stands as a special gem even in the world class beaches of Queensland. Unfortunately, the proximity of Logan River and the rate of urbanisation in the region means this sandy island is extreme prone to marine debris standings from every corner. We decided to target the southern tip of the island, which is home to a minefield of small new sand dunes within a sandy Cape. A total of 196 pieces was collected along approximately 2km of beach by Reef Check Australia, totalling 10.85kg. Rubbish was picked up along Naree budjong Djara National Park, which spans a large portion of the island and is managed by the Quandamooka people in partnership with Queensland Wildlife & Parks Service. A mixture of fresh and weathered plastic was found on site, meaning debris has stranded here from local sources as well as pieces that have travelled far in the ocean. A combination of oceanic currents and wind driving pelagic marine debris out of the deep sea are the reason for this combination of sources of plastic. The beach holds significant cultural history to the traditional owners in this region, with the Quandamooka people using the beach to travel, hunt & live. Ensuring the beach remains plastic free is one way you can ensure everyone enjoys the great outdoors for time to come. Remember, every little bit counts.  If you see rubbish on the beach; pick it up.  Together, we can and will make an ocean of difference. Reef Check acknowledges the Quandamooka people of Minjerribah, the Traditional Custodians of the land, sea and country on which these activities took place, and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project has received funding support from the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action grant program. Great Barrier Reef Clean Up Australia Day - Bowen Our small team was up early to catch the sunrise and complete a beach clean up along Queens Beach in Bowen for Clean Up Australia Day. We covered roughly 1.2km of beach searching the last high tide line and the base of the dunes for litter. Although we collected 5.5kg of rubbish, the number of small pieces of plastic was relatively low at only 95 items. We also collected 23 pieces of polystyrene, along with an assortment of various items, including aluminium cans, fast food packaging and bottle caps. The 2 discarded/lost crab pots we found up in the dunes close to the river mouth made up the bulk of the weight. We were also pleasantly surprised to find low counts of plastics amongst the large piles of organic material that has washed up on the beach. A big thanks to the volunteers who helped out, and for those who stopped to ask about helping out at the next event. This clean up was conducted on the traditional lands of the Birri, Jangga, Juru, Gia and Ngara People. We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians and their Elders past, present and emerging. This clean up was funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. Clean Up Australia Day - Whitsundays By Deb Duggan, Reef Ambassador It was an absolutely beautiful day and a huge number of people turned out around Airlie Beach to do their part for Clean Up Australia Day. After a quick registration at Coral Sea Marina, groups headed off in all different directions, including out on the water, along the foreshore, in the carparks and along the rock wall of the marina. I found myself focusing more on the smaller items and leaving some of the bigger stuff for the families and kids to find, although I did drag someone’s old bedding which was tangled in the mangroves (swag, blanket and clothes). Items collected included toy soldiers, a large number of ‘soya sauce fish’ and in particular the caps on their own, bottles, cans, food wrappers, parts of boat wrecks left over from past storms, thongs and crocs. Approximately 75 people attended the event on the day (with an additional 30 from Whitsunday Escape out at sea that day as well!). Including the litter collected from the islands, approximately 350kg of litter was collected from the event in total; an amazing result! Despite there still being a lot of rubbish here at the gateway to the Whitsundays; the community spirit was amazing to see and the enthusiasm of everyone involved will hopefully lead to more people being aware of the importance of keeping our streets and beaches clean. Thankyou to everyone for coming together and lending a hand. It was a great event to be a part of and have so many groups and individuals come together to help.  Thanks to Coral Sea Marina for organising the event, for Tangaroa Blue and Red Cat for helping with the sorting. It takes all hands on deck to make a difference, and it was great to see such a high community spirit at work! Remember, every little bit counts.  If you see rubbish on the beach; pick it up.  Together, we make an ocean of difference. Reef Check Acknowledge the Ngaro people of the Whitsundays region, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. Ocean Film Festival - Proserpine Our team of ambassadors headed off to the Proserpine Entertainment Centre for the Ocean Film Festival. Although we felt like we were talking to the converted, many of the large crowd were not aware of Reef Check Australia and what we did. Our new (and old) ambassadors enlightened the public on our activities, how they could find out what were up to and how to get involved. The lead ambassador was called upon to give a short talk on who Reef Check Australia are, for those people who did not have time to make it to our stand and also became the random number generator for the amazing prizes on offer. We were so busy talking to people once the doors opened we forgot to take photos :). Thanks to Deb, Emily and Terry for helping out and a big thanks to Adventure Reels for inviting us to be apart of this amazing event. This event was conducted on the traditional lands of the Gia People. We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians and their Elders past, present and emerging. Our attendance at this event was funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation Brain Food Reviews and details on books, documentaries, and podcasts that we have come across, & wanted to share. Recommended by one of our amazing team leaders. The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinction by David Quammen. This book examines evolution and extinction and how isolated islands makes them areas of evolutionary adaptation, think the giant tortoises of the Galapagos, but also areas of extinction.   Current Coral Affairs Check out some of the latest news and research about our ocean In the heart of Sydney the world's first shark breeding program is nibbling success. Nestled deep amongst Sydney's soaring blue and grey glass skyscrapers next to the roaring Western Distributor, hundreds of shark eggs are being laid. Read in: 9 News There's Now 171 Trillion Bits Of Plastic Pollution In World's OceansNice work, humans! Read Now in IFL Science   How sharks equipped with cameras solved an aquatic mysterySeagrass is vital for storing carbon and slowing climate change. With the help of nature’s best divers, scientists have found a patch the size of Portugal. Read in National Geographic: Photo by Michael Worden on Unsplash Get with the Program Here's what we've got coming up in the next few weeks, keep checking the website for more updates.  4 April | Coast to Coral - Using the Reef for Climate Change engagement - register on our website, 6 May | Nurture Fest - an entertainment packed, alcohol free, family festival at Lake Kawana - Buy your tickets here 6 May | Underwater and Beach Clean Up - Alma Bay - Magnetic Island - contact [email protected] for details. 7 May | Underwater and Beach Clean Up - Nelly Bay - Magnetic Island - contact [email protected] for details. If you missed any of our Coast to Coral online events, remember you can always catch-up by taking a look at our YouTube Channel here     Thanks for reading! If you want to help our work to empower more people to protect Australian reefs, please consider making a monthly tax-deductible donation.    Make a Donation   Copyright © 2023 Reef Check Australia, All rights reserved.You have received this newsletter because you have given Reef Check Australia your email address. If you would prefer not to receive any further emails, please click the unsubscribe link in your email.Our mailing address is: Reef Check Australia PO Box 782, Mooloolaba, QLD, 4557Australia    
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Around the Reef - Reef Check Australia - March 2023

May 30, 2023
Dear {{recipient.first_name_or_friend}}  Summer is officially over and Autumn is upon us. Historically the cooler months bringing lighter winds and cleaner seas, so we have our fingers crossed that the weather will be favourable as we have so many activities to get done. This months email includes: Action of the Month: Take Action for the Planet News from the Field Brain Food Current Coral Affairs Get With the Program Take Action for the Planet Image by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash Last month saw us participate in the Sunshine Coasts LARGEST clean up event, amongst weekly clean ups above and below the water along the length of the Queensland coastline. The month of March hosts the official Clean Up Australia Day (Sunday 5 March 2023), which is a great opportunity for everyone to get involved in a massive communal effort to keep Australia clean, but this month we want to encourage you to get involved in clean-up activities each and every day. March is also host to Earth Hour (Saturday March 25th), whereby the idea is to switch off your lights, and other electrical devices and reflect on the incredible benefits nature provides for all of us. This year the theme is "TimeOutForNature" and people around the world are being encouraged to take action and do more. Australia's environmental challenges go beyond just one day, and it’s the collective efforts of everyone doing small actions, increased over time that result in real changes with long term impacts. So March’s Action of the Month is to TAKE ACTION FOR THE PLANET. Be it planting a native tree in your backyard, picking up rubbish on your morning walk, join a local clean up event or organise your own lights out for Earth Hour, or Adopt a Reef and support reef health monitoring, there's no action too simple to take "TimeOutForNature", and to Take Action for the Planet. “Our actions today, as individuals and the global community, have the power to transform what the world will look like for generations to come - the time to act against climate change is now.” – Siddarth Das, Chief Executive of Earth Hour Global News from the field Stories and updates from our teams out & about. Check out some of these regional stories on our website! South East Queensland Allie Cove Noosa, Beach clean-up The summer heat is in full swing, with tourism blossoming across the Sunshine Coast region, especially in Noosa. One of the main attractions found in the area is the iconic Noosa National Park, a large headland littered with embayment’s, rocky shorelines, and beautiful beaches. One of these hidden bays, Allie Cove, is found hidden in between the Sunshine Beach entrance into the national park and Alexandria Bay. It is a 30-40 minute hike from Sunshine Beach, up a small mountain and down an enchanting, steep rocky trail into a small rocky beach. One of the reasons this small beach is so beautiful is one of the reasons it needed a clean, although its 40 minutes from suburbia its isolated and rugged terrain can create perfect conditions for trapping marine debris. A total of 2.563kg over 130 items of marine debris was remove from the Rocky shoreline. The majority of items were found along the highest strandline, buried by rocky rubble and pandanus leaves over time which suggests heavy storms pushed items towards the back end of the enclosed cove, somewhere most visitors don’t think to clean. We hit sampled the beach a few hours after high tide, and there was still plenty of items littered within the intertidal zone, hidden in between small boulders and rocks making the clean a game of hide and seek attempting to find as much as possible while we were there. Rocky shores can act as a marine debris trap, allowing large waves to transport marine debris onto the beach, only to settle within a small crack in between rocks and become stuck there. A normal sandy beach would allow another large wave to pick the item up and possibly continue transporting it to a different location, but rocks are a natural sieve for our anthropogenic rubbish which makes these beaches an unfortunate victim for larger amounts of rubbish settling on them. Remember, every little bit counts. If you see rubbish on the beach; pick it up. Together, we can and will make an ocean of difference. Reef Check Acknowledge the Kabi Kabi people of the Noosa and Sunshine Coast region, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project has received funding support from the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action grant program.   Clean Up for Hatchlings - Snorkel Clean up The sun was up and so was our dedicated team of volunteer snorkellers ready and rearing for a clean up snorkel as a part of the Clean Up for the Hatchlings event early February. With the water at La Balsa being the clearest it has been in a long time, and a warm 28 degrees, 14 snorkellers watched over by our dedicated Surface Watchers cleaned up approximately 700m of rocky coastline. This area also forms one of Reef Check Australia’s long term reef health monitoring sites and is interesting due to the constant changes in the river. Despite this, it is often teeming with marine life, including juvenile turtles, making it an important area to clean up regularly. This year, the snorkel clean up team collected just over 10kg of debris; made up almost exclusively of fishing line, fishing nets, lures, sinkers, plastic bags and plastic bottles. This attributed to a total of 280kg of rubbish picked up from across 18 sites, with over 560 children joining in for the event.  Its always great to see so many come out to support these events, and to showcase how amazing our local areas are! Remember- every bit counts, so if you see it, pick it up; regardless of the day! Big shoutout to each and every person who joined in the days activities. And to our surface watches Iain and Christa Salmond; just as important!  And to Jojo Schultz for the epic photos.  Thankyou! Reef Check Acknowledge the Kabi Kabi people of the Sunshine Coast, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and future. This project is supported by the Sunshine Coast Council’s Environmental Levy Partnerships Grant.   Clean Up for the Hatchlings - Land Based clean up Clean up for the hatchlings (CU4TH) is the largest marine debris clean-up event the Sunshine Coast region currently has, which saw over 235kg of rubbish cleaned from Sunshine Beach to Caloundra in ONE morning, with over 500 volunteers participating! The event was created just like all other great ideas; with friends chatting over coffee. They wanted to merge conservation efforts that hundreds of volunteers do along the coastline every day, and so they decided on an event that brought together several non-profit organisations, local governments, and local communities. The purpose of the annual clean-up is to ensure that the endangered Loggerhead turtles that have nested on our beaches for their whole lives can continue to do so without too much influence from marine debris on our shared sandy shores. It also raises awareness surrounding the anthropogenic impact’s we are causing towards our native endangered animals, while providing an opportunity for anyone and everyone to participate in conservation efforts to mitigating these problems. We engaged hundreds of inquisitive locals at our Reef Check Australia stall, talking to them about the wonderful animals that live below the surface right off our coastline, as well as what they can do in their everyday lives to reduce their impact on our planet. We had a large amount of interest towards new Reef Ambassadors as well as survey divers, demonstrating events like this possess the ability towards educating communities about conservation in a fun and innovative way! Remember, every little bit counts.  If you see rubbish on the beach; pick it up.  Together, we can and will make an ocean of difference. Reef Check Acknowledge the Kabi Kabi people of the Sunshine Coast, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project is supported by the Sunshine Coast Councils Environment Levy Partnership grant. Bulcock Beach Reef Health Survey The sun is out and with conditions looking good, the Reef Check Australia teams are out in full force. A small dedicated team headed out to Bulcock beach boardwalk to complete an annual reef health monitoring survey. The Boardwalk at Bulcock Beach was surveyed for the first time in 2018 after an underwater clean up at the location recorded a variety of fish species, invertebrate species and benthic diversity; showcasing the site as a nursery for many species. Bulcock Beach is a popular coastal recreation area located to the south of Caloundra, and a popular recreational fishing site. The Reef Check Australia reef health monitoring site sits along a rock wall slope in approximately 4-5m depth. It is usually characterised by rock, razer clams, ascidians and sand. The site is also a nursery for a variety of fish species in the area. However this location sits inside the Caloundra bar, initially the only northern opening from Pumicestone passage to the open ocean at the top end of Bribie. A few months ago a breakthrough occurred on Bribie island, creating a new opening, and changing the areas environment; water movement, access and general characteristics of the area, clearly seen in images supplied by Blueys Photography as attached. We knew it would be an interesting spot to go back to visit after all these changes, so the team was excited to go and check it out. The site has changed substantially, with everything being covered in a thick layer of silt. A few ascidians can be found scattered amongst bivalve covered rock, and plenty of fish species were located including butterflyfish, bream, several stonefish, a lionfish and a tiny scorpionfish. Several collector urchins and a single Drupella snail was recorded amongst the heavy silt, and debris including leaves, plastic and fishing line. This area is an important nursery group for many species, and it was sad to see the area covered in such heavy siltation(over an inch deep in most areas); enough to cloud vision with even small movements. It is an interesting area, and we will continue to keep an eye on it through regular clean-ups before attempting to revisit the site for more monitoring. Reef Check Acknowledge the Kabi Kabi people of the Sunshine Coast, Traditional Custodians of the land and sea country on which these activities took place and we pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This project has received funding support from the Sunshine Coast Council’s environment Levy Partnership Grant. Thankyou to SCUBAworld for the tanks.  Drone photos showcasing the changes in the area by Blueys Photography. Great Barrier Reef In-water Surveyor Training Having recently completed the theory component of the RCA Reef Health Surveyor course, two of our keen surveyor trainees Bel and Joan jumped in the water with GBR Coordinator Jenni for in-water training, exams and practice surveys. Surveyors must achieve 85% on theory exams covering Substrate (what's on the seafloor), Invertebrates (target species of crustaceans, sea cucumbers, urchins), and Impacts (bleaching, disease, scarring from drupella and crown of thorns predation, damage from anchors/storm/humans and trash). Then they must achieve 95% during in-water practical exams to ensure the validity of data collected. Our surveyor trainees scored well, meaning you can expect to see them out and about in the water surveying very soon! Thanks to our team of volunteers who gave up their weekend to do exams (if even they were in-water!) and James and Maren who kept an eye out for us as surface watch. Thanks also to Pleasure Divers for always being so easy to hire tanks and equipment for our team. This project is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government's Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation. These activities were conducted on the traditional lands and sea country of the Wulgurukaba, Bindal and Manbarra People. We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians and their Elders past, present and emerging. Offshore Townville - Lodestone Reef Our small but mighty team braved the choppy seas and made the long trek out to Lodestone Reef, east of Magnetic Island to undertake our reef health surveys. Fortunately the worst of the rains had passed, the sun was shining on the reef and the visibility was amazing. Our team surveyed two sites, completing Reef Check Australia Reef Health Surveys, Coralwatch and Eye on the Reef Rapid Monitoring Surveys. The corals were observed to be healthy with very little damage, disease or bleaching. Both sites had great diversity and abundance of fish, with a few target species recorded, along with a Reef Shark. We also recorded giant clams, anemones and target sea cucumbers. Thanks to Reef Ecologic for getting us to site and Adrenalin Dive for supplying the tanks. These surveys were conducted on the traditional lands and sea country of the Wulgurukaba, Bindal and Manbarra People. We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians and their Elders past, present and emerging. Offshore Townsville Surveys are part of Reef Ecologic’s Integrated Coral Reef Citizen Science 2.0 Program, funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation Beach Clean Up - Kings Beach Bowen A team including locals and visitors enjoyed the beautiful morning sunshine and cleaned the length of Kings Beach in Bowen. Not much debris was found on the latest high tide line, but the team collected 6kgs of rubbish from the base of the dunes. The haul included 65 pieces of broken hard plastic and 52 pieces of broken glass, along with 21 pieces of polystyrene. The dunes on this stretch of beach have suffered a lot of erosion following recent rough conditions and the team observed an area that appeared to be a historic dumping ground, with items poking out of the sand dune. They were only able to remove the most obvious items of debris, (glass bottles and metal cans) as removal caused the sand to erode even more. We have marked this area for a follow up inspection. A big thanks to the volunteers who helped out. This clean up was conducted on the traditional lands of the Birri, Jangga, Juru, Gia and Ngara People. We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians and their Elders past, present and emerging. This clean up was funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.   Brain Food Reviews and details on books, documentaries, and podcasts that we have come across, & wanted to share. Recommended by one of our amazing volunteers - The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert - argues that the Earth is in the midst of a modern, man-made, sixth extinction. They look at different examples of mass extinction and one of them is on the GBR!   Current Coral Affairs Check out some of the latest news and research about our ocean How a spiky menace is hitching a ride on the ocean current surfed by Nemo's dad Every year an ocean current supercharged by climate change brings a destructive, spiky species south from New South Wales to the rocky reefs of eastern Tasmania. The long-spined sea urchin is bad news for Tasmanian sea life as the species can quickly nibble swaying kelp forests to bald rocks, forming underwater moonscapes known as urchin barrens. Seaweed is important food and habitat for the animals of a rocky reef, so when urchins create a barren it's akin to clear-felling a vibrant rainforest. Read in ABC News:   Get with the Program Here's what we've got coming up in the next few weeks, keep checking the website for more updates.  Sunday 5 March  | Clean Up Australia Day - Minjerribah - register on the Clean Up Australia Day website. Sunday 5 March | Clean Up Australia Day - Queens Beach Bowen - register on the Clean Up Australia Day website. Sunday 12 March| Moreton Bay Kids Fest - Pine Rivers, come say hi to our team. Sunday 12 March | Your Mates Brewery, Warana - raffles. Come along and enjoy a tasty beverage and snack, buy some raffle tickets and be in the draw for some amazing prizes with proceeds to support Reef Check. Tuesday 14 March | Coast to Coral - Leaf to Reef - the Biodiversity of Lady Elliot Island. Register on our website. Plus there are so many other events on in March, here are just a few.. Ocean Film Festival - numerous dates and locations. Check their website for details. International Women's Day - 8 March International Day of Action for Rivers - 14 March Global Recycling Day - 18 March Earth Hour - 25 March If you missed any of our Coast to Coral online events, remember you can always catch-up by taking a look at our YouTube Channel here     Thanks for reading! If you want to help our work to empower more people to protect Australian reefs, please consider making a monthly tax-deductible donation.    Make a Donation   Copyright © 2023 Reef Check Australia, All rights reserved.You have received this newsletter because you have given Reef Check Australia your email address. If you would prefer not to receive any further emails, please click the unsubscribe link in your email.Our mailing address is: Reef Check Australia PO Box 782, Mooloolaba, QLD, 4557Australia  
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