Reef Health and Impact Survey

The Eye on the Reef — Reef Health and Impact Survey is a quick and efficient way to provide a snapshot of reef health at any time on any reef.

It is a quantifiable survey method that assesses reef health in a series of five-metre radius circles (a total of 78.5 square metres). Trials have shown that participants with similar training consistently achieve similar results, making this a robust and effective method of surveying.

Since 2009, thousands of Reef Health and Impact Surveys have been collected, providing information on the health of hundreds of reefs in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

This survey tool provides vital reef health status updates to inform the Reef Health Incident Response System and trigger management actions. The data from this program allows Marine Park managers to compare results on individual reefs and between reefs.

This survey can be used as an intensive targeted impact assessment for hotspots identified through the early warning system. This enables us to quickly and effectively allocate limited resources to minimise reef damage and support reef resilience.

Management actions in impacted areas can include imposing a special management area that temporarily excludes boat traffic or certain activities such as fishing or anchoring; and working with the community and industries to put in place voluntary arrangements to limit activities that might affect reef recovery.

Once management actions are in place, this survey tool can also be used to assess their effectiveness.

The Reef Health and Impact Survey is used mainly by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and researchers. It is also suitable for tourism staff who have been involved in the Tourism Weekly Monitoring program, and Rapid Monitoring participants who are ready to progress to the next level of surveying.

Maintaining the accuracy and quality of data gathered by this survey program is vital in order for it to effectively inform Marine Park management, so participants must complete a free basic training program.


The Reef Health and Impact Survey training has two parts.

Foundation training (five hours)

The first step involves completing the Eye on the Reef — Reef Health and Impact Survey online training program. There are five training modules with associated movies, knowledge reviews and short assessment quizzes. Each modules takes about one hour to complete. Once participants have reviewed all modules and completed the final exam, they will be added to our Reef Health and Impact Survey participant list.

Advanced in-water training (full day commitment)

Following successful completion of the Eye on the Reef — Reef Health and Impact Survey online training course, Marine Park rangers, tourism operators, researchers and fishers can apply to attend a practical in-water training session. We conduct several sessions each year.

All other stakeholders who have completed the foundation training may join these regular training courses if space permits. Opportunities for separate in-water training days for other groups of stakeholders can be discussed on a case-by-case basis with the training coordinator.

To join the Eye on the Reef — Rapid Monitoring online training program or provide feedback, please contact the Eye on the Reef team.