New eyes watch over the Reef

Keeping an eye on the health of the Great Barrier Reef is the focus of in-water training for 30 Whitsunday tourism staff at Bait Reef today.

The full day training by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) is part of the long-running Eye on the Reef monitoring program that collects valuable information on reef health, marine animals and incidents.

Under the program, anyone out on the water can report sightings and observations. Tourism operators are specifically trained to monitor their sites weekly.

GBRMPA acting Tourism and Stewardship Director Dr Roger Beeden said the in-water training was being held at the request of local tourism operators in addition to the annual tourism training in March.

"Tourism operators directly approached us to train their new staff members, and they’ve invited others from the area to be involved too — this is a great commitment,” Dr Beeden said.

“It’s fantastic to see local tourism operators being proactive and recognising they are well-placed to monitor corals because they’re out on the water most days and have an intimate knowledge of local reefs.

“Training tourism operators in standard monitoring methods allows unprecedented coverage of Reef health on a weekly basis.”

The long-term data gathered through the Eye on the Reef program is vital for understanding Reef health and identifying management actions necessary to protect the Reef ecosystem.

The tourism training, specifically developed for the tourism industry, teaches operators to complete a weekly survey of what they see on the Reef, including looking for coral bleaching, disease, damage and predation by crown-of-thorns starfish, as well as recording sightings of protected and iconic marine animals.

The Eye on the Reef program enables anyone out on the water to collect valuable information about reef health, animals and incidents.

An Eye on the Reef smartphone and desktop application are also available for recording your sightings when out in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

For more information visit or email The free Eye on the Reef app is available from app stores.