Our SEQ dive teams have kicked off the 2019 season with visits to Moreton Bay and the Sunshine Coast,
First up, Reef Check surveyors visited some of our inshore Moreton Bay sites in the second week of January, at St Helena, Mud Island and Green Island.
The sites, which RCA aims to visit twice a year, are very close to the river, and urban development along the shore, making it a challenging environment for the coral communities that inhabit the area! With high silt loading and a lot of sediment in the water, it can also make for challenging diving conditions, but our surveyor team did a fantastic job of getting the surveys done at four of our sites!
They found plenty of coral battling away, some interesting species of fish, including goatfish, snapper, some wobbegongs and a few sargassum filefish! Thanks to the team at Moreton Bay Research Station for helping us get out to these sites and to the Port of Brisbane Pty Ltd for supporting our surveys. And of course to our amazing surveyors for their hard work!
A Reef Check team also had the pleasure of visiting South East Queensland's most spectacular dive site, Flinders Reef, on the 20th of January.
Flinders is home to an incredibly diverse range of marine and coral species, and most renowned for its beautiful large plate and branching corals!
Reef Check Australia have been surveying sites at Flinders since 2007, and we have a number of monitoring sites there. Strong currents made it difficult to navigate to the first survey site, but our fantastic team of surveyors managed to complete a survey at our Alden's Cave site and collected an array of fantastic images for updating our surveyor training material!
Thanks to Adreno, Scuba Shane and Supercat Charters for putting the trip together, and to the Queensland Government Community Sustainability Action Grant for supporting our activities and surveys in the Moreton Bay area. As ever we couldn't achieve this without our awesome team of surveyors, and special thanks to Gary Cranitch for the incredible images!
Our Sunshine Coast team also recently got out on the water at beautiful Bullcock Beach to do a survey - and didn't miss the opportunity to add in a clean up while they were there as part of the Clean Up for the Hatchlings event. Great work team!
With plans in place to pick up our in water activities in both the Gold Coast and Noosa regions this year, it's going to be a busy time for our Scuba Surveyors!
Don't forget, there's still time to registered your expression of interest for the upcoming Scuba Surveyor training courses in the Brisbane/Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast/Noosa regions.
Expressions of interest are now open for both Reef Surveyor and Reef Ambassador training in 2019 - so keep reading and get your application in ASAP if this sounds like you!
Be A Reef Check Scuba Surveyor
Reef Check Scuba Surveyor training is a fun way to meet a tribe of reef-mind people, find out more about our beautiful reefs, boost your dive skills and build your capacity to actively contribute to scientific research. You don't need to have previous science or survey experience--we'll provide you with comprehensive training to safely collect great quality data to help look after reefs.
We'll be running training courses both for Brisbane and the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast region in 2019. So if you're a PADI Advanced Open Water diver, or equivalent, and you've always wanted to get more involved in reef research - now is your chance!
Expression of Interest Forms - Scuba Surveyor Training
Brisbane and Gold Coast: Expressions of Interest Form For SCUBA Surveyor Training, March 2019
Sunshine Coast: Expressions of Interest Form For SCUBA Surveyor Training, May 2019
Be A Reef Ambassador
Our Reef Ambassador program is a ground breaking project, training community outreach volunteers to actively inspire, motivate and support their communities to better understand and help protect local marine environments.
Reef Ambassadors are reef role models who actively empower their communities to better understand and help protect marine environments at a local level. If this sounds like something you'd love to be involved in, then apply now!
Expressions of Interest Forms - Reef Ambassador Training:
Brisbane and Gold Coast: Expression of Interest Form For Reef Ambassador Training, March 2019
Sunshine Coast: Expression of Interest Form For Reef Ambassador Training, May 2019
Check out the calendar for more info on all these training sessions!
The Brisbane team has had a super busy year during 2018 and they're finally winding down for the festive season. But they wanted to go out with a bang - fitting in a range of events in and out of the water to round off a productive year. So here's just a few highlights from their end of year activities:
Reef Check Australia staff and volunteers attended the Moreton Bay Research Station Open Day in November, to celebrate 56 years of their fantastic work facilitating and supporting education and scientific research. The survey teams have relied heavily on the staff and resources at the station to help get them out to many of our long-term monitoring sites in Moreton Bay this year, so we were very proud to be involved on the day!
Project Coordinator Rory Mulloy gave a brief presentation on Reef Check Australia's survey findings and volunteer activities in the region. Thanks to Reef Ambassadors Britt and Sue for coming along to help spread the word about citizen science and local reefs!
Thanks to the Queensland Government's Community Sustainability Action Grant, and the Port of Brisbane Pty Ltd for their support in making these events happen.
You don't have to travel far in South East Queensland to find a surprisingly beautiful underwater world. Our surveyors have visited some incredible sites this year and the last survey trip of the season was no different, with our team jumping in off the Amity Point boat ramp to find an interesting array of reef fish, wobbegongs, nudibranchs, and even a humpback dolphin. Unfortunately they also found a large amount of marine debris, in particular fishing line, so the team also conducted an underwater clean up as well as a survey!
Divers managed to remove fishing line which was wrapped around branching coral, sinkers and lures, and old bottles. A very worthwhile addition to this survey trip. These activities were proudly supported by the Queensland Government Community Sustainability Action Grants.
Finally, to round off a brilliant year of Coast to Coral talks, Johan Gustafson spoke to a full house at the Bearded Lady about his work tagging and tracking hammerhead sharks in South East Queensland. His research has helped identify hammerhead pupping grounds in the region, and to better understand the movements and behaviours of this species.
Sharks always seem to capture people's imaginations, but we have had a whole range of fascinating topics in 2018. Talks have covered habitat restoration, dolphin acoustics, sea-grass meadows, and even how diving on the reef virtually from your own home can contribute to citizen science, and help monitor the state of the Reef.
The talks will resume in February 2019, and we already have more fantastic speakers lined up! Thanks to the Queensland Government Community Sustainability Action Grant for their continued support with these talks.
Thanks to all our volunteers and supporters who have helped make this year so productive in the Moreton Bay region.
We can't wait to see what 2019 will bring!
The South East Queensland survey season has now officially begun, with an awesome team of Reef Check Australia volunteers recently spending the weekend on gorgeous (and quite wet!) Stradbroke Island refreshing their reef surveyor ID skills in addition to learning new skills with Fish identification.
Despite the cold and sometimes rainy weekend, teams also completed four reef health surveys at Flat and Shag rock off Stradbroke Island.
Teams were treated to many a turtle, plenty of whales breaching, and wobbegongs a plenty!
As ever we need to say a huge thank you to our amazing volunteers for their time and dedication over the weekend- reef monitoring simply cannot be done without them, and we are so lucky to have volunteers willing to donate their whole weekend to monitoring the reef. Thanks also go to Holzheimer (Point Lookout SCUBA Dive Charters) for getting the team to our sites, and to the Queensland Government's Community Sustainability Action Grants for supporting these vital projects.
What a way to kick off the season!
Our Brisbane Reef Ambassadors were thrilled to join the Quandamooka Festival's annual Welcome the Whales event to celebrate the arrival of 'yalingbila' (humpback whales) on their northward migration.
Visitors to the festival had the chance to chat with some of the Ambassador team and choose a pledge for the ocean. Thanks to all those local heroes who made their commitment to help protect our reefs and oceans!
The Ambassadors also led a beach clean up on the day to help look after this very special place.
Our Moreton Bay Reef Ambassadors program is proudly supported by the Port of Brisbane.
On 5th June, some of our awesome Brisbane Reef Ambassadors hopped on board the MV Inspiration, to learn more about the effects of micro-plastics on the ocean, and plankton life-cycles for World Environment Day.
The Moreton Bay Environmental Education Centre provides authentic education programmes from preparatory level to Year 12, allowing students, teachers and the community to develop relationships with the local area through immersion in natural, heritage and cultural education. They educate students about the environment from plankton in the oceans to koalas in the trees and everything in-between. They are currently running a project named Overboard and Underwater, which educates students about the dangers and ramifications of micro-plastics by examining the plankton life-cycle and explaining how even the smallest creatures in the ocean are affected by humans.
Robin Pickett and Jennah Williams were invited along for the day to take part and enjoy this fantastic learning opportunity. The voyage commenced with a safety briefing, an introduction to the program and the schedule for the day, before the team set off across Moreton Bay in the direction of St Helena Island.
En-route, Robin, Jennah and their travelling companions were told that over 8 billion tons of plastic waste ends up in the ocean every year, causing the deaths of tens of thousands of marine animals who ingest, become entangled in or are poisoned by this plastic.
Next on the agenda was a video on plankton, told from the viewpoint of a red snapper and highlighting huge diversity of micro-organisms there are! In fact in a single teaspoon you can have 1 million living creatures comprising of phyto- and zoo plankton.
Following the video it was time to get hands on. The plankton trawl net was lowered and drifted behind us for 5 minutes before being hauled in with help from eager participants, including Jennah!
Contents were concentrated in a collection tube and poured into a glass jar, then pipettes were used to make dot samples for viewing under the microscope. Images were projected onto a screen and ID charts were provided to identify these amazing critters!
While enjoying some locally sourced nibbles, the Ambassadors chatted to some of the teachers on board about marine education in schools. Robin and Jennah were pleased to hear that many teachers were fully engaged in pledging to reduce their plastic waste!
A plastic trivia game on the way home (with eco-friendly prizes including re-usable straws, cotton and beeswax bags and bamboo toothbrushes on offer) offered some final inspiration for teachers to go over what they had learnt and would take back to teach their students.
Robin and Jennah reported back that "the programme proved to be a fantastic and very informative day. The work that the Moreton Bay Environmental Centre is doing is vital to the protection and understanding of our oceans for the future generations. The time to take action on plastic waste is now!"
Huge thanks go to the Moreton Bay Environmental Education Centre for letting our Ambassadors come along and for all the great work they do. Check out some more of the day's action below!
Reef Check Australia has been monitoring inshore fringing reef sites in Moreton Bay / Quandamooka since 2009. We've recently added new monitoring sites for the fringing reefs at Green, St Helena and Mud Island thanks to funding from Port of Brisbane.
These sites, so close to the city of Brisbane and the surrounding catchment area, are exposed to water quality issues from sediment and runoff, and high-levels of recreational access. Subtropical marine habitats can also be affected by climate change, with resident species responding to changes in water temperature.
Conditions in Moreton Bay can be challenging for diving, but luckily our team had glorious winter weather. The water was beautiful and clear, with barely a puff of wind all weekend. It was an inspiring reminder of the sometimes-forgotten beauty and health of the underwater environment right on Brisbane's doorstep.
Seeing notable coral communities just minutes from a bustling metropolitan city is incredibly uplifting and highlights the resilience of these amazing organisms. The range of pressures they face make it all the more important to continue to survey and monitor the health of these sites.
Congratulations to our survey team for collecting the data, and thanks to Port of Brisbane and the Moreton Bay Research Station for making this trip possible. Happy to announce that we'll be conducting bi-annual surveys at these sites again this season, so stay tuned for more updates!
It's been few weeks of events for our Ambassadors, who have been representing Reef Check at the Logan Eco Action Festival (LEAF), the Green Heart Fair, and the Quandamooka Festival.
A team of volunteers ran a stall at LEAF to help raise awareness about local environmental issues, and educate the community on the importance of citizen science. They even got to meet Costa Georgiadis from ABC’s Gardening Australia!
And the Green Heart Fair, Chermside, they ran a community stall helping promote the message of sustainable living, and sharing some tips on how to reduce your plastic use to combat plastic pollution and marine debris.
Meanwhile, some of the team headed over to North Stradbroke Island to help kick off the Quandamooka Festival, sharing information about some of our local survey sites off the island, and promoting local conservation issues. Reef Check are proud to have been involved in celebrating the people, culture, and beautiful environment of the Quandamooka area.
Two of our lucky Ambassadors were also able to head out on the Moreton Bay Environmental Education Centre's vessel, the MV Inspiration, for a 'beat plastic pollution' session. Robin and Jennah, along with a host of local school teachers, participated in a plankton tow around Moreton Bay, and studied the samples on board for evidence of microplastics. Watch this space for a video about their day of adventures soon!
Our Reef Ambassadors program in Brisbane is supported by Queensland Government's Community Sustainability Action Grant Program, Port of Brisbane and Advance Queensland.
Enter to win a unique, handcrafted, wooden ‘Tree to Sea' surfboard, signed by 7-time surfing world champion, Layne Beachley!
Tania Kenyon, a Reef Ambassador volunteer and PhD candidate researching coral reefs at UQ, was awarded a Layne Beachley Foundation 'Aim for the Stars' scholarship in 2017 to support her work.
She is now raffling this beautiful surfboard to ‘pay it forward'. Funds will go to Reef Check Australia's citizen science and education programs, and to The Layne Beachley Foundation, to support future scholarship winners. Grab your raffle ticket today!
Congratulations to our new Brisbane Reef Check Surveyors! In challenging conditions over on Stradbroke Island, the team demonstrated their reef knowledge and survey skills over back-to-back practical dive sessions. Thanks to Ken from Point Lookout Scuba for looking after the team. Thanks also to Port of Brisbane for supporting this volunteer training course!
Our new surveyors are now eager to get out in the field and put their new skills into practice throughout the survey season!