Scientific research

The Great Barrier Reef has long been an area of strong interest for scientists around the world.

The first formal investigations began in the late nineteenth century, and were followed by long-term field studies by the Royal Society of London and the British-Australian Great Barrier Reef expedition to Low Isles in 1927 and 1928. This laid the foundation for the development of coral reef science.

Now, the Reef is an international hub for tropical marine ecosystem research, and probably the best-studied tropical marine ecosystem in the world.

Scientific research is essential to understanding the functioning, health and resilience of the ecosystem and to continually improve its protection and management.

Management

Under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning Plan 2003, scientific research is permitted in relatively undisturbed areas called Scientific Research Zones.

Individual research activities require permits or accreditation of research institutions, and strict conditions apply.

A network of six island research stations at Lizard Island, Low Isles, Green Island, Orpheus Island, Heron Island and One Tree Island is integral to research activities on the Reef.

Eighty per cent of scientific research has been conducted around Lizard, Heron and Orpheus islands.

Impacts

Given the scale of activities, overall impacts from scientific research are likely to be localised.

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