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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!

RCA at QUT Summer Holiday Program

February 05, 2020
On January 18, Reef Check Volunteers Rose and Gemma joined 25 of Brisbane's most entrepreneurial young minds at The Cube for the Queensland University of Technology's Reef Challenge, as part of the QUT Summer Holiday Program. Facilitated by Bop Industries and QUT's The Cube, the workshop saw students from across Brisbane develop innovative solutions for some of the Reef's biggest challenges. The students were tasked with researching, designing and pitching marketable consumer products that would significantly improve ocean health.   Rose and Gemma worked with the teams, providing guidance on the finer points of marine science while being wowed by the student's creativity and passion. The team awarded 'Most Entrepreneurial' was Banana Bags who pitched a range of food based, biodegradable carry bags using green banana skins straight from Queensland farms. This team went all in on the circular economy concept, turning a waste product into a desirable item and ensuring it can then be re-purposed as fish food. With a mission to reduce plastic waste and a 'give-back promise' of 10% going to ocean protection, Banana Bags was a sure winner. Other incredible entries included oil cleaning drones; educational, recyclable plastic rash-vests; and coral harvesting take home kits. The RCA team were seriously impressed at the quality of the ideas on the day! Thanks to the Port of Brisbane and Queensland Government for supporting our work in this region.    
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Get to Know our Volunteers - Shayan Barmand

January 22, 2020
  We know that getting involved in conservation and education efforts can seem daunting. So we thought a "Getting to Know our Volunteers" segment might help inspire peeps while answering some of the FAQ's on what it takes to be active for our reefs and oceans!   We're kicking this segment off with our Reef Ambassador extraordinaire, Shayan Barmand!       Why did you join RCA? I first read about RCA while looking for volunteer groups that protect the Great Barrier Reef and conduct dive surveys looking at the extent of bleaching. I studied climate change and global change science, which emphasised the role of the oceans in supporting the stable functioning of the planet. So when I moved to the Sunshine Coast I started learning a lot more about the GBR and tropical marine ecosystems in general as a critical life support system for marine biodiversity. As major bleaching events were underway, I looked for ways to get involved in its protection. Once I met Jodi Salmond and saw firsthand the awesome work that RCA does on the ground, I knew I wanted to volunteer and help out in whatever way I could.   What has made you stick with us?! I have volunteered and continue to volunteer with a number of other conservation and sustainability-focused non-profits. The reason I dedicate most of my time to RCA is because it stands out in how it manages volunteers, the projects it runs, and most importantly, because it focuses on scientific research as well as community education, and bridging the gap between the two. Its citizen science program is evidence-based, educational, engaging and actions-focused; and its ambassador/surveyor trainings are comprehensive, and the methodology stands up to scientific scrutiny so you know that the data can have a real impact. It allows ordinary citizens to get involved in a task that is much bigger than themselves and goes to the heart of ensuring a safe and healthy planet for future generations.   What does RCA mean to you? RCA is a perfect example of a bottom-up project that accelerates local progress in reconnecting humanity with the biosphere, which is absolutely essential for addressing the combined environmental/social challenges we face and leading human society into the necessary evolution of living in harmony with nature. On a personal level, it allows me to combine what I love (educating and engaging all sectors of society to take action that is evidence-based and solutions-focused), with what I am most passionate about (bringing humanity into harmony with nature by mitigating climate change and further biodiversity loss).      Shayan is one of the volunteer organisers who keep Reef Check Australia's Sunshine Coast Coast to Coral talk series running smoothly! If he has inspired you to find out more, check out our "Get Involved" page to see how you can help!
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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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