Research and Monitoring

Not surprisingly, the Marine Park’s unique, complex ecosystem attracts scores of leading scientists and researchers from all over the world.

As a marine tourism operator, you can have a significant role to play in helping advance the scientific cause – whether it be by providing support and assistance to researchers, or through actively participating in monitoring programs.

The data that you and your clients collect (or help scientists gather) will make a valuable donation to the scientific understanding of the reef environment and could also assist in detecting environmental change and conserving the world’s greatest living organism.

What’s more, you’ll find that most of your clients will genuinely enjoy the unique tourism experience and the opportunity to make a useful contribution to the continued sustainable use of the Marine Park.

Responsible Reef Practices

  • Become involved in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority partnership monitoring programs such as the Eye on the Reef Program which provides valuable data that allows for effective management of the Reef.
    • the Sightings Network is an Eye on the Reef phone app (developed in 2013) enables any Marine Park user to report the interesting or unusual things they see on the Reef, while they’re still out on the water. These photos and observations feed straight back to the Eye on the Reef data management system, and can be linked to the user’s Facebook page. The photos and observations sent in by users help GBRMPA to build knowledge about species diversity, abundance, habitat and range. This harnesses citizen science en masse, while the real-time web reporting and social media elements give the program broad community appeal.
    • Rapid Monitoring is an entry-level monitoring program that enables regular reef users and tourists to get more engaged in reef reporting and protection. It means core reef health indicators can be reported by relatively inexperienced people from places that may not be visited regularly. The simplicity of this sub program makes reef monitoring accessible to all members of the public, therefore boosting participation and the data received through the program. Tourism operators are beginning to offer the Rapid Monitoring program to their guests as a new reef experience. It gives guests a better understanding the Reef while enabling them to also contribute to its preservation.
    • Reef Health and Impact surveys is an efficient way to provide a snapshot of reef health at any time on any reef. Used by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and trained observers, it involves detailed assessments of small areas. It is often used to assess impacts of natural disasters on the Reef such as cyclones and floods because of the way it quantifies impacts and indicators.
    • Tourism Weekly Monitoring surveys for reef tourism operators and crew to carry out weekly observations of specific sites they visit, providing comparative data over time. It commenced in 1997 by the tourism industry and was the original Eye on the Reef program that supported the concept of research in operational procedures, company policies and staff training. The power of Tourism Weekly is the frequency of sampling and is designed for tourism staff to have the role of surveying a site once per week for reef health indicators. There is an online training course arranged into modules which contains multimedia, including video files so that content is interactive and enjoyable. This online training also provides stewardship guidance and in-water best practice concepts to Great Barrier Reef tourism guides. It is a general introduction to reef biology, ecology and interpretation and is relevant wherever you work in the Marine Park. A comprehensive training manual for reference at the workplace is available and you will receive a certificate if you successfully complete the course. Quarterly workshops, often with guest scientists speaking about their areas of expertise follows on from the online course as does in-water training events. These in-water training days held on tourism operations provide ideal opportunities for Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority staff to exemplify reef stewardship to tourism guides.
  • Others ways you can provide valuable information and enhance your knowledge of Great Barrier Reef matters include:
    • Attending seminars, workshops and other research-related events held locally.
    • Contributing, if possible, to research efforts through data collection, monitoring and logistical support for researchers and community monitoring groups (such as transport, accommodation, and dive equipment).
    • Briefing staff and passengers to stay clear of and not interfere with research activities, sites and equipment.
    • Reporting damaged research equipment to the relevant research facility or the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
    • Conducting in-house site monitoring to detect environmental changes and impacts (check with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority if you will need a permit).
    • Incorporating the latest research results into interpretative activities and operational procedures, where appropriate.

Marine Parks Legal Requirements

  • A Marine Parks permit is required to conduct research.