I started with Reef Check Australia as a volunteer back in 2008. Never then would I have guessed that I would be leading this incredible organisation. It has been such an amazing journey. Now it's time for the next adventure and I am moving on to a new role.
In my nine years, we’ve expanded and worked with partners to grow an incredible subtropical reef monitoring program in South East Queensland, building a one-of-a-kind reef health data set across the region. We went West, working with local partners to build the foundation for a program for Ningaloo Reef and we’ve continued to collect globally-relevant data on the largest living structure on earth, the Great Barrier Reef.
Our team has launched programs like REEFSearch to build new pathways for people to get involved in learning about and checking up on reefs. We worked together with dedicated ocean action agents and social research partners, to build the Reef Ambassador community outreach program. Launching and growing this program to help support every day heroes has given me an overwhelming sense of hope by combining citizen science with action.
And we've helped do some great work for the reef, mapping inshore reefs of Moreton Bay for the first time in a decade, teaming up to tackle marine debris, looking at ways to apply Reef Check methods to reef restoration, exploring new data applications such as report cards, and collaborating on initiatives like the nomination of the Moreton Bay Hope Spot to highlight critical marine environments and the people who fight for them on a global stage.
This almost decade-long has been made possible and downright enjoyable because of our dedicated team of staff, board and volunteers, who never cease to amaze me with their generosity, big brains and MacGyver skills. It has been a privilege to work alongside every one of them. Special thanks to Jody Kreuger, our volunteer dive officer and trainer, and the most amazing supporter I could ever ask to be with on this journey.
For me, Reef Check is a powerful blend of science, education and community-based conservation. And it’s a time when we need this combination more than ever. We know we have a window to build reef resilience now and act on climate change to protect reefs for the future. And we know we need a movement of people who care to help make it happen.
I’m thrilled about what’s to come for Reef Check. There are some excellent plans in the works that will be rolling out soon:
- We are in the final stages of a seriously epic new database, boosting how we manage and share data, as well as making it easier for our amazing volunteers to coordinate their involvement. Thank you Josh Passenger, database volunteer extraordinaire for this incredible gift.
- We’ve recently been awarded funding to move all of our volunteer training online, boosting options for engagement and streamlining our Ambassador and Reef Surveyor training materials
- We are continuing to explore new ways to apply the Reef Check methods through habitat mapping, restoration applications, photo transects and new indicators
- Our Ambassador programs are taking off at an incredible pace. More than 80 trained outreach volunteers are doing inspirational work in Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Townsville. Stay tuned - thanks to the dedication of these community leaders, the positive impact is only going to grow.
So although my role may be changing, I am looking forward to contributing as part of the dedicated Science Committee working on some exciting papers, lending a hand with our superstar Brisbane Ambassador crew, and being a loud advocate for the important role of citizen science and community action in looking after the reef.
Citizen science makes so much possible. Its growth is on the rise and its potential is unstoppable. Thank you for being part of the Reef Check network. Together, we can save our reefs and oceans.