Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef are driving this extraordinarily ambitious project that aims to establish a broad snapshot of the Great Barrier Reef’s status in a way that is credible, scientifically sound and provides valuable insights for its management, while also mobilising the global community in its ongoing protection.
GBR Biology helped in running the successful pilot program that took place in 2019. The full-scale event is scheduled to run over an 8-week period, beginning in the spring of 2020. Citizen science is playing an increasingly important role in supporting reef management. It has been designed so that any competent snorkeller can perform the census. Citizens from across the world will be invited to participate in the census online making it a truly global engagement event.
The Great Reef Census aims to identify those individual reefs that are driving the recovery of the wider ecosystem. Spanning 2,300km in length and comprising nearly 4,000 individual reefs, surveying the entire Great Barrier Reef is an immense task. The objective of the Great Reef Census is to include as many reefs as possible and therefore support spatial decision making, such as which reefs need careful management to ensure that they can help other reefs recover.
Over 3 million people visit, work or play in the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef Marine Park annually. In essence, every tourism boat, commercial fisher, Traditional Owner and recreational vessel can become an army of citizen scientists collecting vital data and engaging visitors in the reef’s health.
The methodology requires people to capture a series of images of reefs using GoPros, geotag them and upload to the Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef census platform. We will then use the platform to analyse the images, helping to build the bigger picture of the Reef’s state.
The Great Reef Census is in partnership with the University of Queensland, the Reef & Rainforest Research Centre, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Australian Institute of Marine Science. For more information, please visit Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef greatreefcensus.org