In the wake of the Great Barrier Reef’s worst coral bleaching event, people who love the Reef can sign up to become a ‘scientist for a day’ in October to help improve understanding of the Reef’s current status.
The Great Barrier Reef Foundation’s month-long ReefBlitz will engage people power to capture the biggest ever snapshot of Great Barrier Reef health and life powered by citizen science from 1 to 31 October.
Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef Dr Steven Miles welcomed the expansion of ReefBlitz to cover the whole Great Barrier Reef, from coast to coral, across a month-long program of citizen science activities.
“The Great Barrier Reef has been under extraordinary pressure this year with higher sea temperatures leading to widespread coral bleaching,” Dr Miles said.
“Understanding the impact of this on the Reef’s health and biodiversity is vital.
“Throughout October, ReefBlitz will give people the opportunity to help collect important information about the Reef’s current condition, from checking the health of corals, seagrass and mangroves to spotting key marine species such as turtles, manta rays, fish and others.
“More than 20 activities and events – either free or low cost – are planned from Port Douglas to Moreton Bay, along with a month-long call out for people to snap, count and upload marine and coastal sightings to create a record number of observations for the Great Barrier Reef.
“The Great Barrier Reef Foundation’s ReefBlitz program will contribute vital data that scientists and Reef managers need to help them understand how the Reef is recovering and what needs to be done to help it for the future.”
Great Barrier Reef Foundation Managing Director Anna Marsden said ReefBlitz gives everyone the opportunity to be a Reef scientist for a day.
“ReefBlitz will give every-day people who love the Reef a chance to get their hands wet and be part of the effort to help protect it,” Ms Marsden said.
“The Great Barrier Reef is as big as Italy, so we literally need thousands of ReefBlitzers to get involved and help us capture a snapshot of what they see from coast to coral,” Ms Marsden said.
“Everyone is invited – beachcombers, divers, snorkellers, sailors, fishing enthusiasts, boaties, locals, tourists and even land-lubbers. ReefBlitz is an opportunity for everyone to see and understand what’s happening on the Reef and get hands-on with the amazing Reef citizen science programs that are helping it.
“You don’t even need to get wet to join in. Our coastlines and coral reefs are very much connected, so people can also photograph and record what they see on the coasts and islands as well as in-water.
“With support from our ReefBlitz major partners, the Queensland Government, Boeing, Qantas and Orica, and working with the Great Barrier Reef Citizen Science Alliance, this will be the biggest ReefBlitz yet.
“There are two main ways to get involved. Sign up for one of the more than 20 free and low cost activities on offer in Port Douglas, Cairns, Central Queensland, and even Brisbane’s Moreton Bay. Or you can ReefBlitz DIY by uploading what you see on your own Reef trips to citizen science programs including Eye on the Reef, CoralWatch, Project Manta, Redmap, and Tangaroa Blue.
“The information, photos and videos submitted by members of the public will complement the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s post-bleaching surveys planned for October and November.
“People can make a real contribution to helping the Great Barrier Reef when it needs it the most.
“From previous experience, we know that the Reef is resilient and, given time and the right conditions, it can recover. ReefBlitz will help show its progress and create a new wave of citizen scientists looking after it.”
2016 marks the third year of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation’s ReefBlitz, and the first time it has extended to multiple locations across a whole month.
On Sunday 9 October, Brisbane’s Moreton Bay will host more than 10 ReefBlitz activities including coral and seagrass cruises and mangrove monitoring.
Central Queenslanders can join a creek crawl in Rockhampton or Keppel Island clean up from 22 to 28 October.
North Queensland events include weekend activities in Port Douglas on 8, 23 and 29 October and a three day ReefBlitz program of events in and around Cairns from 28 to 30 October, with a variety of water and land-based events including Reef cruises.
From 1 to 31 October, people will be able to upload their individual marine and coastal sightings online to contribute to the ReefBlitz snapshot. The five key sites to upload ReefBlitz snapshots are: the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park’s Eye on the Reef app; CoralWatch website; Project Manta facebook; Redmap website; and Tangaroa Blue’s Australian marine debris database.
Businesses are also on board for the second annual ReefBlitz Corporate Team Challenge to be staged on Lady Elliot Island from 20 to 22 October. Eight teams, each with five members, from Boeing, Qantas, Orica, Google and BHP Billiton will engage in hands-on ReefBlitz activities to collect information for the Great Barrier Reef snapshot.
More than 1400 people took part in ReefBlitz 2015 which was staged over three days in Townsville and Magnetic Island in north Queensland. Together, participants contributed 616 individual observations of 216 different species, both marine and terrestrial, to scientific records.
ReefBlitz is an initiative of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation with support from Boeing, the Queensland Government, Orica, Qantas and event partner the Great Barrier Reef Citizen Science Alliance.
For more information and event registration, visit www.reefblitz.com