The sheer size and diversity of habitats that make up the big beautiful Great Barrier Reef (GBR), also represent an extreme challenge to monitor and manage. To boost the extent and regularity of information about key vital signs, individuals and communities are joining a growing movement of citizen science for the Reef.
The Australian Citizen Science Association defines citizen science as public participation and collaboration in scientific research, with the goal to increase scientific knowledge. Reef-relevant citizen science programs offer options for different activities, covering what and how data is collected. This means there truly is an opportunity for everyone to get involved.
As a snorkeler or diver, you can contribute by collecting and reporting information from what you see on your reef visit. This might include information on the types of wildlife, habitats or reef health impacts you see through Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Eye on the Reef Program.
Or you can help monitor coral colour using the CoralWatch Coral Health Chart to track bleaching. If you see something usual while out on the water, you can report unusual sea creatures using Redmap’s app, which helps to track species range shifts.
For those who want to elevate their skills, there are options to train to join survey teams that collect globally standardised reef health data with Reef Check Australia.
The GBR is more than just coral, and includes other important connected habitats such as mangroves and sandy islands. So, you don’t even need to leave the coast to get involved in programs such as Tangaroa Blue which allows you to report beach clean-up findings to track marine debris to the source. You can also help monitor indicators for other connected habitats, such as testing water quality in creeks and rivers that flow to the Reef with Conservation Volunteers Australia, or recording the extent and condition of mangroves that filter run-off from...