Find out about the recent Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) workshop from RCA volunteer Cheryl Tan: -
As part of the warm-up to the recent Clean Up for the Hatchlings event at La Balsa Park, volunteers and employees from participating non-profit organisations (Reef Check Australia, SurfRider Foundation) came together for the AMDI workshop held at SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast Aquarium organised by the Sunshine Coast Council to learn more about the Australian Marine Debris initiative (AMDI) system.
The aim of this workshop was to enable volunteers and organisations who were running beach clean-up events to also collect data on what they were finding with a consistent methodology so it could be collated into a standardised national database on marine debris.
A couple of interesting takeaway points as well as fun facts we learned from this workshop included:
- Chocolate wrappers and potato crisp packages were classified as “foil wrappers” under the Metal section and not under “Packaging Items” in the datasheet.
- How would you differentiate a lollipop stick from an earbud stick?
- The top of a white lollipop stick has a square hole but the top of an earbud stick has little grooves in it!
This is a fun activity for kids to get stuck into, but it is also important when it comes to itemising these 2 items in the appropriate category: lollipop sticks go under “Plastics” and earbud sticks go under “Sanitary” in the datasheet.
- Once everything under the “Plastics” section has been itemised, we collate all plastic straws and place them in a pile to be counted.
- Cyalume sticks were another interesting item. If found during clean-ups, these were first itemised and thereafter collected and sent for identification. These sticks would then be traced back to various fish and tackle stores.
There were many other pointers we received during this hands-on session and is definitely a highly recommended workshop for anyone looking to use the AMDI datasheet within their local community clean up events.
Thanks to the Sunshine Coast Council for supporting our work in this region.
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!
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!
Our Community Engagement and SEQ Projects Manager, Jodi Salmond, joined the Noosa Parks Association's Friday Forum recently to share her knowledge of our local SEQ reefs.
Dianne Shun Wah, Friday Forum Organiser from the Noosa Parks Association, gave us her thoughts on the talk:
'Many of us thought we knew about reefs, but I am pleased to say, we now realise that there is so much more to learn. Jodi's talk was full of easy to understand information as well as being fun!! What a great combination.
You have clearly learned some incredible ways to explain underwater facts…. the skill of a great communicator. A great morning had by all!"
Thanks to Dianne for the invite and for her kind words, and to Noosa Council for supporting our work in this region
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!
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:
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!