Scientific research

The Great Barrier Reef provides research opportunities for scientists from Australia and around the world.

It's an international hub of tropical marine ecosystem research with a long history of scientific investigation.

The first formal investigations began in the late nineteenth century. Now, the Great Barrier Reef is probably the best-studied tropical marine ecosystem in the world.

Scientific research is essential to understanding the functioning, health and resilience of the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem and to improving its protection and management.


Scientific research is provided for in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning Plan 2003.

Scientific Research Zones provide opportunities for scientific research in relatively undisturbed areas.

Individual research activities are managed through permits or accreditation of research institutions and strict conditions apply.

A network of island research stations is integral to the research activities, and Scientific Research Zones are generally located adjacent to these research stations.

The six island research stations are at Lizard Island, Low Isles, Green Island, Orpheus Island, Heron Island and One Tree Island.


With ongoing management, any impacts of research are likely to be small and limited to the immediate area of study.