Cairns tourism crew trained in reef health check-ups

Identifying early signs of coral bleaching and checking for coral disease — just some of the skills Cairns tourism crew will learn at practical reef health and monitoring training this week.

The day-long training run by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority sees 13 crew from six operators putting their knowledge from online training into practice on the Great Barrier Reef, around Green Island.

After successfully completing both online and practical training, they will be certified by the Marine Park Authority as official reef surveyors and submit weekly reports on Reef health to marine park managers.

The Marine Park Authority’s Chris Jones said it was always fantastic to add to the broad network of people who are keeping an eye on the Reef.

“Tourism crew are out on the water most days and are uniquely placed to help us monitor and record changes in the health of the locations they visit and observe so frequently,” he said.

“By combining their already good knowledge of the Reef’s plants and animals with this practical training they will become official reef surveyors formally submitting reef health information to us.

“Once they’re back in their day jobs they’ll provide valuable, quick and efficient weekly updates on any emerging issues and trends for stewardship of their sites.”

Since 2009, trained operators and their crews have submitted thousands of surveys and information on reef health through the monitoring program run by the Marine Park Authority.

These high-frequency reef health alerts inform the Marine Park Authority’s response to Reef health incidents and trigger management actions.

The weekly surveys are just one of several monitoring and reporting methods delivered through the Marine Park Authority’s Eye on the Reef program, which also involves marine scientists, Marine Park rangers, fishers, Traditional Owners, community members and visitors to the Reef.

In addition to training the tourism industry participants, this course will also provide an opportunity for training of Marine Park Authority staff, Indigenous Rangers, community members and crew from a not-for-profit organisation working on the Reef.

Anyone out on the water can also contribute their knowledge on reef-wide ecosystem health and resilience by getting by reporting information through the Eye on the Reef app.

The data from the whole program allows Marine Park managers to compare results on individual reefs and between reefs.