The always awesome World Environment Day (WED) festival was held in Rotary Park, Cotton Tree on the Sunshine Coast 2nd June 2019.
Celebrated in over 100 countries to build awareness and action for the protection of our environment, WED on the Sunshine Coast attracted some thousands of people despite forecasted showers. Despite the bursts of heavy rain and on-and-off showers, our Reef Ambassadors and Surveyors spent the day engaging with members of the public, sharing their passion for reef conservation, and discussing ways individuals can make small behaviour changes to help protect the oceans.
Many visitors to our stall were shocked to see a photo of a pristine coral reef and learn that the image was taken at local Mudjimba Island. We also had a number of divers approach us and share their keenness to get involved with Reef Check's citizen science.
The team also decided to change it up this year by offering mugs to patrons as an alternative to the usual single use coffee cups. These quirky cups, inscribed "you've just been mugged" with the reef check logo, were at hit! Our dedicated team handed them out at each coffee stall to patrons who seemed relieved to have a guilt free alternative (and enjoyed the pun as well). It was wonderful to witness many people wandering around the festival toting our mugs and keep cups, with few opting for the single use alternative. We are taking this as a great success, so get ready to be 'mugged' by us at the next WED!
Overall, a great day was had by all and we were stoked to be involved in World Environment Day. Hats off to the organisers, see you next year!
Every year hundreds of millions of people around the world in more than 7,000 cities in over 180 countries take part in Earth Hour. This year, the team at Reef Check Australia decided to show our support for Earth hour by inviting our supporters to switch off their minds as well, for a Yoga by candlelight event.
The beautiful space for our Brisbane event was generously donated by The Academy of Grounding and our wonderful Yogi Grace donated her time taking everyone through a relaxing Yin practice. Just the thing to truly switch off!
We'd also like to give massive thanks to our Sunshine Coast yoga instructor, Breeana, and also the Perigian Beach Community Centre for generously donating their time, space and energy to this wonderful and relaxing event!
Here's the lowdown from one of our Sunshine Coast attendees, Alexandra Arri:
"Switch off to switch off was such a great way to show solidarity in highlighting the importance of Earth Hour. Breeanas kind and humble nature only added to the calmness of the flickering candle lights as she lead us through an hour of gentle yoga poses. I would definitely recommend future events organised by Reef Check Australia."
Big thanks to our amazing Ambassadors who helped to organise these events.Also, thanks to the June Canavan Grant for supporting the Sunshine Coast event and to the Queensland Government Community Sustainability Action Grant for supporting the Brisbane event!
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!
Reef Check Australia once again teamed up with the Caloundra Music Festival for 2018 as a celebration of the International Year of the Reef! Despite the windy and wet weather, the crowd took advantage of our popular green screen, transplanting themselves into a variety of underwater wonderlands. Festival goers were encouraged to pick a pledge (something they DIDN'T already do) to showcase what they were willing to do for the love of our reefs and oceans.
To accentuate the focus on local Sunshine Coast reefs as apart of #IYOR2018 Reef Check Australia also partnered with local artists Yasmin Bridges from Awkward Chat and Ross Holloway to create a truly amazing 3D installation as a part of the festival.
The stunning 'Lets get Visual' installation utilised locally sourced recycled materials and the amazing local marine environment for inspiration. The installation was designed to encourage the community to think about their daily actions and how they impact the world around us.
The banner was made of reused festival mesh from last year‘s event; the seats were milk crates with covers made from a broken dome tent and an old yoga mat, both sourced from the Buderim tip. The jellyfish in the trees were constructed from discarded packaging materials: bubblewrap and mesh from a local art supplies store.
The Reef Check Australia green screen and stall at Caloundra Music Festival is made possible through support from the Caloundra Music Festival, our amazing volunteers, and the Sunshine Coast Councils Environment Levy Partnership Grant program. The 3D art installation is a fantastic collaboration between science and art. Thanks to local artist Awkward Chat and Ross Holloway. It was made possible through support from the local Sunshine Coast Councils Community Development Minor Grant program
Our Reef Ambassador team on the Sunshine Coast have been keeping busy during the past few weeks with some awesome events and activities.
The amazing Sara and Dee organised a sell out event with their trivia night, with over $1000 raised towards future reef surveys on the Sunshine Coast. They were greeted with many familiar faces and lots of new ones, showing that their hard work is reaching the greater community with their efforts. Good Bar kindly hosted the event and helped relieve extra stresses! The event was great fun and a huge success, so thanks so much to Sara and Dee for all their hard work - it really paid off.
Co-organiser Sara tells us "We are confident that as new Reef Check Ambassadors we are making our mark on the Sunshine Coast and endeavour to go even bigger with future events". We couldn't agree more Sara!
Huge thanks also go to the event supporters and sponsors, including Good Bar, The Dock, The Source Bulk Foods, Greenhouse Cafe, Elixiba, Greenout Cafe & Bar, Solbar and Yoga Vida. Without the support of these local legends, we wouldn’t have been able to present attendees with some awesome prizes.
Sara and Dee also took part in the University of the Sunshine Coast Orientation Day on 16th of July, where they shared the Reef Check stall alongside the environmental student group known as USCeco. Despite a little wind, they had a great time mingling with the new and returning students, including many international students that were very interested in learning about the beautiful local reefs found on the Sunshine Coast.
Students in particular had a very keen interest in learning about our reefs and their conservation. Not only were the team able to share their knowledge, they also gained insights into the many initiatives taking place at the University of the Sunshine Coast to tackle single use plastic on campus and the plans to roll out solar panels throughout the site.
We're sure this will be the first of many collaborations with the inspiring and motivating USCeco group.
Way to go girls - you're setting the benchmark high on community involvement in your region!
Following some pretty intensive training as part of our first Sunshine Coast based Reef Ambassador course, in May we welcomed 17 new Reef Ambassadors/Ocean Action Agents to our team thanks to a grant from June Canavan Foundation.
It's wonderful to see so many super awesome, inspiring people ready to get active in their community! We would like to thank each and every one of them for their enthusiasm and ideas and for wanting to help protect our reefs and oceans in any way they can. We are very excited to see their projects come to fruition!
Reef Check Australia were excited to introduce 13 new Ocean Youth Action students to the REEFSearch citizen science program in the last month, thanks to SEALIFE Mooloolaba.
Students used their new REEFSearch skills to locate a variety of invertebrates, impacts and substrates found along the Mooloolaba rockpools to test out their new kits in preparation for visiting some local reefs later in the year.
Why not check out the REEFSearch Program and see how YOU can get involved!
With lots of training opportunities coming up on the Sunshine Coast for reef surveyors and ambassadors, we wanted to make sure we didn't leave out those people who want to learn a bit more about their local reefs and reef ecology but who might not have the time to commit to taking on an active role with RCA.
Our half-day Reef 101 workshop provided locals with training in our REEFSearch identification and observation program. The workshop is designed to boost understanding and identification skills for reef ecology - so next time you're out on the reef you'll know exactly what you're looking at!You don't need any science experience - just an interest in protecting our reefs and oceans.
Here's what one of our participants had to say:
"The Reef 101 Course was a fantastic learning opportunity for everyone involved! Jodi gave us a great introduction on reef ecology, in which we were able to compare different types of coral, substrates, invertebrates and their habitats. We also learnt how to use our reef ID kits in a practical exercise, to help us with determining signs of healthy vs unhealthy reefs and to identify areas affected by coral bleaching events. The group participating in the course were of different ages and levels of experience. Everyone seemed really enthused and ready to learn with a common interest of a love for our reefs and a focus on wanting to protect them.
Many of us did not realise just how incredible our local reefs are- right on our doorstep! This course has further encouraged us all to begin our journey as citizen scientists, helping to conduct valuable research at our local reef hotspots.
The Reef Check team are doing such amazing things for our oceans and are constantly educating us. By allowing us to become a part of the research process we are extremely lucky! Protect our reefs! So many of our amazing creatures and critters depend on them and it is impossible to imagine a world without them! "
(One Free Sea)
This workshop was supported by the Sunshine Coast Council.