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Whether it’s media releases, catching up on our newsletters or finding out the latest news from the field, there’s plenty of information here for you!

Farewell to Pete!

January 15, 2020
  Our Board Director and Treasurer, Peter Faulkner, has decided to officially step down from the Board (although we're pleased to say he will be staying involved with Reef Check Australia on other levels). We wanted to take this opportunity to recognise the amazing contribution Pete has made to the organisation over the many years of his involvement - and thought a quick Q&A with the man himself might be the best way!   How did you get involved with Reef Check Australia? "I first got involved with RCA back in 2007, just after arriving in Australia. I had previously been involved with citizen science coral reef monitoring with Coral Cay Conservation (CCC, a UK group) on projects in Belize, Honduras, Indonesia, the Philippines and Fiji. We had done a little work using Reef Check protocols on some of those projects so I was familiar with the concept. On arriving in Australia I contacted Jos Hill (RCA founder) who was also an ex-CCC volunteer and was quickly trained first as a surveyor and then trainer. When RCA moved Head Office from Townsville to Brisbane in 2011 I stood in as Acting-GM for about three months to facilitate the transition. I joined the Board soon after that and was Chair from 2011 to 2014 and acted again as Acting-GM briefly in 2018."   Can you tell us about one of your highlights with RCA? "One highlight of my time with Reef Check Australia was the opportunity to do a couple of RCA trips out to Osprey Reef on the old Undersea Explorer. But without doubt the highlight for me has always been training keen new surveyors and passing on my knowledge about reef ID and the RCA methodology; it's often said that being RCA trained changes the way people dive and how they see diving...and I love being able to give that to people."   What does Reef Check Australia mean to you? "I've been involved with citizen science on reefs for almost 30 years all over the world and I've seen the power that genuine engagement with impassioned volunteers and communities has to make change. Over the years with RCA I've met, worked with and trained many such people and we need to always remember why we're all doing what we do...for a better reef in the future. Individually and collectively we have the power to make change for the better and RCA continues to work hard to make that happen."     Pete and new Board member Mark   Thank you Pete for all your amazing efforts for Reef Check Australia. We hope you enjoyed meeting some of the new recruits at your last Board meeting and we look forward to sharing their stories with everyone soon!
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Shag Rock Survey!

January 02, 2020
Thanks to the Brisbane survey team for their fantastic efforts collecting quality data from two survey sites at Shag Rock on 21 December.   The survey team left in the early hours of the morning to North Stradbroke Island. The conditions were perfect and the sea life was booming! Two successful surveys completed with giant rays, leopard sharks, moray eels and plenty of fish which is all a sign of a healthy reef.   After the team made their way home they were informed that a Great White Shark was hanging around the corner at Point Lookout!       Thanks to the Queensland Government for supporting our work in this region.
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RCA at Moreton Bay Research Station Open Day

December 27, 2019
  On a bright Saturday morning, volunteers Tanya, Marzia, Krystel and Jodi hopped on a ferry over to Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) for the UQ Moreton Bay Research Station open day. This annual event is getting very popular, with the station offering activities for kids and environmental nerds of all ages, from touch-tanks, to boat tours of the bay, to talks about how parasites affect turtle ecology. Reef Checkers were happily stationed between the arts and crafts table and the NGO Humpback and High Rises.     The “guess who I am” cards were a big hit with kids - some of them staying for over 30 cards and bringing friends along to check out what they had learned. Although there weren’t too many divers present, adults were very interested to learn about Reef Check Australia’s survey methods and how we get that information to the government and other stakeholders. Lucky for us, a fifth Reef Checker and current UQ Honours student, Tanya Alejo, transformed from station volunteer to Reef Check volunteer in the afternoon, giving the rest of the team a chance to check out some cool talks.     Thanks to the Port of Brisbane and the Queensland Government for supporting our work in this region.
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Volunteer Testimonials

December 17, 2019
Ever thought about getting more involved with Reef Check Australia? Check out these testimonials below about what it's like to get active for our reefs and oceans!:-   Whitsunday SCUBA Surveyor Training TestimonialsI took the Reef Check Australia surveyor course with Jodi in 2019. As an environmental sciences student, I was interested in helping out with conservation efforts and monitoring of reef health. The course really helped me to identify various reef impacts, invertebrates and substrates. I had good fish identification skills prior to the course, but the content that Jodi provided really helped open my eyes to reef health and being able to differentiate between things such as coral disease and different forms of bleaching. Jodi’s enthusiasm and knowledge made the course a really enjoyable experience. Since taking the course, I’ve recommended it to many other divers and science students and plan on conducting reef surveys when I return to Queensland. Dave Charlton                                                     __________________________________________   I took the Reef Check surveyor course with Jodie in 2019 in the Whitsundays. I’ve always had a passion for diving and always wanted to understand more about coral reefs systems, the various challenges they face and what conservation efforts we can make to get more involved. Also living in the Whitsundays for around 5 years I was keen to see how some of the popular dive sites have recovered since cyclone Debbie in March 2017. The course was really enjoyable and being able to identify reef health, coral disease and keystone invertebrates was very rewarding and has taken diving to a new level for me. I found Jodi very enthusiastic and she clearly had a passion for reef health and conversation. I've since recommended it to fellow divers in the Whitsundays. I have completed Reef Check dives since in the Whitsundays and I will be 100% doing more in different locations when possible. Ben Corbishley   _________________________________________   A Volunteer Snapshot   I’ve been part of the amazing Reef Check family since 2018, as an enthusiastic Italian scientific diver. My passion for the tropical environment and conservation have taken me to Australia to study the Great Barrier Reef. I took part in several projects both in Italy and Australia and the methodologies are different based on vastly different marine habitats. I was very lucky to visit several reefs and also collect RCA survey data from a range of locations, including nearshore fringing coral reefs at Magnetic and Hook Island and outer reefs including John Brewer reef and Lodestone reef. I was also able to participate in the ReefClean initiative at Hinchinbrook and Hook Island. (ReefClean is funded by the Australian Department of the Environment and Energy's Reef Trust and delivered by Tangaroa Blue and a number of partner organisations including Reef Check Australia.)   Clean Up event. Photo by Gemma Molinaro Although the Mediterranean Sea and the Great Barrier Reef are two very different ecosystems, with different impacts and threats, I've found that Reef Check affiliates around the globe have the same drive and passion, along with dedicated volunteers helping collect data and protect the natural environment. Empowering people to take care of our oceans and help reduce the pressures our marine environments face to provide a better outlook into the future. Susanna Primavesi   RCA survey and underwater clean up. Photo by Jenni Calcraft and Gemma Molinaro _________________________________________   If you'd like to get more involved, keep an eye on our calendar and make sure you sign up for our monthly eNews!
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Cleaning Up Magnetic Island!

December 06, 2019
  On the weekend of 23 & 24th November the crew from Reef Check Australia headed to Magnetic Island for multiple beach and underwater clean ups in partnership with Tangaroa Blue as part of their ReefClean project. Calm conditions greeted the underwater team as seven divers and three snorkellers took to the water to see what marine debris they could find.     The team targeted two locations, Alma Bay and Nelly Bay. They collected 13.5kgs of marine debris, much of it being small plastic pieces, clear plastic film, plastic and glass bottles and cigarette butts. Underwater, thankfully, the team did not collect much at either location. At Nelly Bay the only debris found was discarded and abandoned fishing line that the team cut off the reef.     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.  
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Beer and Yoga For The Win!

December 01, 2019
Beer and yoga. An unlikely combination, but one that's gone gangbusters across the world. And now the Sunshine Coast has taken on the challenge with the launch of Beer Yoga at Your Mates Brew House. This beer yoga event was the first of its kind for the Sunshine Coast, and a fundraising initiative under the combined forces of Reef Check Australia and Your Mates Brewing. The session saw punters getting bendy, with beer-drinking incorporated into each classic yoga pose. Think sun salutations and reverse warriors, interspersed with sips of your favourite ale.     Brydie O’Halloran from Younion Yoga, a qualified vinyasa yoga instructor (and seasoned beer drinker) got everyone loose, limber, and having fun — from the total yoga novices just there for the beer, to the well-practiced pro to show us all how it was done. ‘Looking after our natural backyard is incredibly important to us. Growing up on the Sunshine Coast, we’ve enjoyed first-hand the treasures of our ocean, so supporting local legends who are doing amazing things for this environment is a no brainer for us’  said Lachie Finch, Your Mates spokesman.      MASSIVE shout out to Your Mates Brew House for their support of BEER YOGA on the Sunshine Coast! With so much positive feedback, the wheels are in motion for the next one. As it if WASN’T going to be a winner! Make sure to watch this space, so you can get your name down early!
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Improving Partnerships in the Dry Tropics

November 26, 2019
Reef Check Australia GBR Coordinator Nathan Cook presented at the recent  Dry Tropics Partnership for Healthy Waters meeting, talking about the current work and future plans for Reef Check Australia’s reef monitoring program in the Dry Tropics region.   RCA GBR Coordinator Nathan Cook presenting to members at the Dry Tropics Partnership for Healthy Water Partnership meeting   Recently the Dry Tropics Partnership for Healthy Waters Technical Working Group agreed to include Reef Check benthic data as part of their reported monitoring. This enhances the connections between citizen science and management.     Nathan Cook (Centre) with Dry Tropics Partnership for Healthy Water Executive Office Annie Bauer-Civiello (left) and Conservation Volunteers Australia Coordinator Sharon Marks   This project is supported by the Townsville City Council. It represents important collaboration between industry partners and citizen science groups like Reef Check Australia, a key outcome of Reef Ecologic’s Integrated Coral Reef Citizen Science Program, funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.  
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Clean Up At South Straddie - A Volunteer Roundup!

November 19, 2019
The South Straddie Cleanup 2019 did not disappoint - offering an amazing weekend and learning experience for those who took part. Check out this roundup from Cheryl Tan - one of our fab volunteers!   The RCA team were among over 50 volunteers from a range countries (including the USA, Brazil, Spain, New Zealand, Singapore and of course Australia!) who all came together for a common cause and picked up 650 kgs of rubbish in under 3 hours!        Volunteers learnt how to fill out a data collection sheet used by Positive Change for Marine Life (PCML) to sort the rubbish collected into different categories. This was useful in understanding what and where the rubbish was coming from and made everyone reflect on the bigger issue at hand; the insidious movement from "non-sustainable single-use plastic" to "biodegradable single-use plastic" which is simply placing a band-aid over the issue of micro-plastics and not addressing consumer behaviour towards single-use plastic.          It was a great segway into the evening presentations given by participating organisations (Cleanwater Group, Positive Change for Marine Life & Surfrider Foundation Gold Coast Tweed) which explained the multi-dimensional approach adopted by these groups. It did not stop just at organising community clean-ups; instead they take things one step further by engaging with the community both locally and overseas to find the root cause(s) of pollution and collaborating with local councils and government to implement effective waste management strategies.     Thanks to Cleanwater Group for inviting us along to the event, as well as charity partners Positive Change for Marine Life, Surfrider Foundation Australia and Tangaroa Blue. As well as all of the event sponsors: Byron Bay Brewer, Spirit of the Gold Coast Whale Watching, Patagonia, Biome Eco Stores, Charlies Fruit Markets and Tipplers Licence Cafe for helping make the day such a HUGE success. A big thanks to City of Gold Coast for their support.
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