Marine Monitoring Program

The Marine Monitoring Program covers the Great Barrier Reef inshore environment and collects valuable information on long-term changes in the condition of inshore water quality, seagrass and coral reefs. 

The program — co-funded by the Department of the Environment and research partners including Australian Institute of Marine Science, James Cook UniversityUniversity of Queensland is managed by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. 

Monitoring is conducted by scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, James Cook University, University of Queensland, Bureau of Meteorology and community volunteers. 

As part of the Reef Plan Paddock to Reef Integrated Monitoring, Modelling and Reporting Program, information from the program is combined with data collected at the paddock and catchment level to produce an annual report card

The report card summarises the health of the Great Barrier Reef and its catchments, actions being taken to reduce the loads of pollutants, and subsequent results. 

The program interprets information from a range of other programs including Seagrass Watch, AIMS Long Term Monitoring Program, ports data and Reef Health and Impact Surveys

Reports provide information on the condition of inshore water quality, coral reefs and seagrass meadows.

  • Annual summary report provides a short overview of inshore water quality, coral and seagrass ecosystems.

Key monitoring undertaken

Water Quality




28 fixed monitoring locations, 27 wet season samples plus contingency to do additional sampling in high flow conditions and 11 pesticide samplers. Sites are from Burnett Mary to Cape York.

36 locations from Fitzroy to the Wet Tropics.

41 intertidal and 4 sub-tidal locations from Burnett Mary to Cape York.


Collecting water samples from research vessels for standard laboratory analysis, remote sensing data, automated data loggers and passive samplers.

Visual records of coral communities are captured through scuba assessments and digital photography.

Visual assessment of seagrass condition is conducted through video footage and field sampling.


Pesticides are sampled nine times a year. Water quality is sampled three times a year at the Cairns Transect, 11 times at Russell Mulgrave and Tully focus areas, nine at Burdekin focus area and five in the Mackay Whitsunday region.


Biennial, before and after the wet season


Australian Institute of Marine Science, James Cook University, University of Queensland, Bureau of Meteorology.

Australian Institute of Marine Science

James Cook University

Information collected

Includes concentrations of nutrients and organic carbon (particulates and dissolved), chlorophyll a, total suspended solids, pesticides, coloured dissolved organic matter, Secchi depth, CTD casts, and salinity.

Hard and soft coral cover, cover of macroalgae, density of juvenile corals, and prevalence of coral disease, crown-of -thorns starfish, Drupella, physical damage, Cliona, coral bleaching.

Seagrass abundance, community composition, epiphyte cover, sediment composition, canopy height, reproductive structures (flower production, seed and seed bank monitoring), tissue samples, nutrient status (carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus) leaf isotopic signatures (carbon and nitrogen), light and temperature.